Section Bylaws

Article I
NAME AND PURPOSE

Section 1. Name.
The name shall be “Trial Lawyers Section, The Florida Bar.”
Section 2. Purposes.
The purposes of this section are:

  • To provide an organization within The Florida Bar open to all members in good standing of The Florida Bar who have a common interest in trial advocacy before the courts.
  • To provide a forum for discussion and exchange of ideas leading to the improvement of individual trial abilities.
  • To assist the courts in establishing methods for the more certain and expeditious administration of justice.
  • To advise the various committees on rules regarding desirable amendments to improve and standardize judicial procedures.
  • To instill in members of The Florida Bar generally a desire to increase their effectiveness in the courtroom and in chambers with a view to better service of the interests of their clients and the cause of justice.
  • To preserve and protect the jury system.

Article II
MEMBERSHIP

Section 1.Eligibility.
  • Members of The Florida Bar. Any member in good standing of The Florida Bar interested in the purposes of this section is eligible for membership upon application and payment of this section’s annual dues. Any member who ceases to be a member of The Florida Bar in good standing shall no longer be a member of the Trial Lawyers Section.
  • Florida Legal Assistants – Affiliate Membership. Any Florida legal assistant, as defined below, interested in the purposes of this section is eligible for affiliate membership upon application and payment of this section’s annual dues for legal assistant affiliate members. For the purpose of this section’s bylaws and this paragraph, Florida legal assistant shall mean a person who is employed by and supervised by a member of The Florida Bar or law firm practicing in the state of Florida, and who has satisfied the following minimum requirements:
    • Successful completion of the certified legal assistant (CLA) examination of the National Association of Legal Assistants, Inc.; or,
    • Graduation from an ABA-approved program of study for legal assistants; or,
    • Graduation from a course of study for legal assistants which is institutionally accredited and which requires not less than the equivalent of 60 semester hours of classroom study; or,
    • Graduation from a course of study for legal assistants, other than those set forth in (2) and (3) above,plus not less than 6 months of in-house training as a legal assistant in a law firm or legal office under the supervision of a member of The Florida Bar, in good standing; or,
    • A bachelor degree in any field, plus not less than 6 months of in-house training as a legal assistant in a law firm or legal office under the supervision of a member of The Florida Bar, in good standing; or,
    • A minimum of 3 years of law-related experience under the supervision of an attorney, including at least 6 months of in-house training as a legal assistant in a law firm or legal office under the supervision of a member of The Florida Bar, in good standing; or,
    • Two years of in-house training as a legal assistant in a law firm or legal office under the supervision of a member of The Florida Bar, in good standing.
  • Restrictions on Affiliate Membership. An affiliate member is a member of this section only. Affiliates shall have all the privileges accorded to members of the section except that affiliates shall not vote, hold office or participate in the selection of officers or members of the section executive council.
  • The section shall reimburse The Florida Bar for its costs expended in connection with administration of this affiliate membership.
Section 2. Affiliate Membership.
Individuals who assist an attorney as a legal assistant in the delivery of legal services, and satisfy other minimum requirements established by the executive council, are eligible for affiliate membership upon application and payment of this section’s annual dues. Affiliate members shall be non-voting affiliate members of the section, and shall not be eligible to serve as voting members of the executive council or as officers of the section. A representative of the affiliate members, designated by the Florida Legal Assistants, Inc., may serve as a non-voting liaison member of the executive council. Affiliate membership shall be limited to one-third of the total membership of the section.
Section 3. Administrative Year.
The administrative year of the section shall run concurrently with the administrative year of The Florida Bar.
Section 4. Annual Dues.
The annual dues shall be in an amount fixed by the executive council and approved by The Florida Bar. There shall be no proration of annual dues. Upon becoming a member, dues shall be payable thereafter in advance of each membership year. Any member whose dues are in arrears for a period of 3 months shall thereupon cease to be a member of the section.

Article III
OFFICERS

Section 1. Officers
The officers of this section shall be a chair, chair-elect, and secretary.
Section 2. Executive Council.
There shall be an executive council composed of 21 elected members of this section. In addition, the chair, chair-elect and secretary, and immediate past chair shall serve as ex-officio members of the Council during their term of office if they are not otherwise an elected member of the executive council.
Section 3. Duties of Officers.
The duties of the officers shall be as follows:

  • Chair. The chair shall preside at all meetings of the section and at all meetings of the executive council. The chair shall appoint all committees and committee chairs with the approval or concurrence of the executive council, be responsible for all reports submitted to The Florida Bar or to the Board of Governors of The Florida Bar, and shall perform such other duties as customarily pertain to the office of chair. The chair shall be an ex-officio member of each committee of the section.
  • Chair-elect. Chair-elect shall become chair in the event of death, resignation or failure of the chair to serve for whatever reason; provided, however, that in case of temporary disability or absence of the chair, the chair-elect shall serve as acting chair only for the duration of the chair’s disability or absence. The chair-elect shall be responsible for such other duties as the chair may designate. The chair-elect shall be an ex-officio member of each committee of the section.
  • Secretary. The secretary shall be responsible for all permanent files and records of the section, including the minutes of the meetings of the section, the executive council and all committee reports. The secretary shall keep accurate minutes of the proceedings of all meetings of the section and the executive council and shall furnish copies of said minutes to the executive director of The Florida Bar.
Section 4. Term of Office.
  • Chair. The term of office of the chair shall begin at the conclusion of each annual meeting of the executive council during which the chair was elected and shall end at the conclusion of the next annual meeting of the executive council, at which time the chair shall be automatically succeeded by the chair-elect.
  • Chair-elect. The term of office of the chair-elect shall run concurrently with that of the chair, beginning at the conclusion of the annual meeting of the executive council during which chair-elect was elected and ending at the conclusion of the next annual meeting of the executive council when the chair-elect becomes chair.
  • Secretary. The term of office of the secretary shall begin at the conclusion of the annual meeting of the executive council during which the secretary was elected secretary and shall end at the conclusion of the next annual meeting of the executive council.
  • Executive Council. All members of the executive council, excluding those initially appointed by the president of The Florida Bar as hereinafter provided, shall serve for a term of 3 years, the terms of the members of the council being staggered so that 7 members shall take office at each annual executive council meeting, said terms commencing with the conclusion of the annual meeting of the executive council following their election and ending at the conclusion of the annual meeting of the executive council 3 years thereafter.

Article IV
DUTIES AND POWERS OF EXECUTIVE COUNCIL

Section 1. Governing Body.
The executive council shall be the governing body of the section. It shall have general supervision and control of the affairs of the section, subject to the provisions of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar and the bylaws of this section. It shall authorize all commitments or contracts which entail the payment of money and it shall authorize the expenditures of all section funds. It shall not, however, authorize commitments, contracts or expenditures involving amounts of money in excess of the total amount which is anticipated as receipts from dues during the fiscal year plus the amount which has been previously collected from dues and remains unexpended. The executive council shall authorize the chair to appoint such committees in addition to the standing committees hereinafter named to perform such duties and exercise such power as the council may direct. The council shall appoint such officers as is required by these bylaws. As the governing body of the section, it shall be vested with the power and authority to formulate, fix, determine, and adopt matters of policy concerning the affairs and purposes of the section which are not inconsistent with the policies of The Florida Bar. All recommendations of the section to The Florida Bar, the Board of Governors of The Florida Bar, any branch of the judiciary, or to any other group or body to which the recommendations may be directed, must first be approved by the executive council and if made to other than the Board of Governors of The Florida Bar, it shall have the prior approval of The Florida Bar.
Section 2. Meetings.
The executive council shall conduct its business at regular and special meetings as provided for in these bylaws; provided, however, the business of the executive council between regular or special meetings may be conducted by correspondence to the extent authorized by the chair. Members of the council must be present at a meeting in order to vote. The chair of the section may, and upon the request of any member of the council shall, submit or cause to be submitted in writing, to each of the members of the council, any proposition upon which the council may be authorized to act at scheduled regular or special meetings.
A majority of the council shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of all business. A majority vote of the members of the council present and voting as duly recorded by the secretary shall constitute the binding action of the executive council.
Section 3. Legislative Committee.
  • Structure – The Legislative Committee of the Trial Lawyers Section shall be composed of 6 members.
  • Terms – The 6 members of the Legislative Committee of the Trial Lawyers Section appointed to serve effective July 1, 1986, shall be appointed for staggered terms as set out below:
    • Two members shall be appointed for one-year terms by the chair.
    • Two members shall be appointed for two-year terms by the chair.
    • Two members shall be appointed for 3-year terms by the chair-elect who shall also name a chair-elect of the legislative committee.
  • Request for Legislative Position – The legislative committee shall from time to time make recommendations to the executive council regarding requests for the section to adopt a legislative position. Such positions shall be taken in accordance with the requirements adopted by the Board of Governors of The Florida Bar.
  • Legislature in Session – During the time when the Florida Legislature is in session, the chair of the section, upon consultation with the chair-elect of the section and the chair of the legislative committee and the chair-elect of the legislative committee (if possible under the circumstances), may act upon pending or proposed legislation in lieu of action by the executive council if it is not reasonably possible or feasible for the executive council to act. The chair of the section shall notify all members of the executive council of the section of such action taken as soon as it is reasonably possible to do so.
Section 4. Executive Committee.
  • Structure – The Executive Committee of the Trial Section shall be composed of 6 members.
  • Terms – Six members of the executive committee of the Trial Lawyers Section shall be appointed to serve, effective July 1, 1986, for staggered terms as set out below:
    • Two members shall be appointed for 1-year terms by the chair.
    • Two members shall be appointed for 2-year terms by the chair.
    • Two members shall be appointed for 3-year terms by the chair-elect.
  • Emergency Action – Three members of the executive committee, together with the chair, or, in the absence of the chair, the chair-elect, may, on behalf of the executive council take emergency action upon any proposition upon which the council may be authorized to act at scheduled regular or special meetings. The chair shall report such action to the executive council at its next regularly scheduled meeting.

Article V
NOMINATION AND ELECTION OF OFFICERS AND EXECUTIVE COUNCIL

Section 1. Initial Selection of Executive Council.
Upon approval of these bylaws of the section by the Board of Governors of The Florida Bar, the president of The Florida Bar shall appoint the executive council, designating 7 members to serve in such capacity until the conclusion of the second annual meeting of the executive council, 7 members to serve for an additional 1 year thereafter, and 7 members being designated to serve for an additional 2 years thereafter or until the conclusion of the fourth annual meeting of the executive council. Such executive council shall at its first regularly scheduled meeting elect a chair, chair-elect, secretary and treasurer, which said officers shall hold such offices until the conclusion of the second annual meeting of the executive council, at which time the executive council shall elect a chair, chair-elect, secretary and treasurer to serve until the conclusion of the next annual meeting of the executive council.
Section 2. Election of Officers.
Nominations shall be made by the executive committee. The chair-elect and the secretary shall be elected by the executive council at its annual meeting.
Section 3. Election of Executive Council.
Of the 7 members of the executive council to be elected each year for 3-year terms, 3 members shall be elected by the executive council and 4 members shall be elected by the membership in attendance at the annual meeting of the section. Each year the immediate past chair, the chair, and the chair-elect for that year shall serve as a nominating committee for the purpose of presenting to the annual section meeting the names of not less than 6 nominees for the 4 vacancies to be filled by the membership by a plurality vote. Nomination for such vacancies may also be made from the floor during such annual meeting. All ballots must be marked for four nominees.
Section 4. Vacancies.
If at any time during a term of office of an officer or a member of the executive council, such office shall become permanently vacant by reason of death, resignation, ineligibility or other reason, such office shall be filled for the balance of such term by vote of the executive council at the next meeting of the executive council unless otherwise provided herein. The term of a person who fails to attend 3 of the regular meetings of the executive council held during the administrative year shall become automatically vacant and shall be filled as provided herein.
Section 5.
No person may serve as an elected member of the executive council for more than 2 consecutive, full 3-year terms. The term of a director elected to fill a vacancy shall expire at the time of the expiration of the office being filled and shall not be counted as a full 3-year term, unless the unexpired term exceeds 2 years. A person elected chair, chair-elect, or secretary of the section, together with the immediate past chair of the section, shall serve as an ex-officio member of the council during their term of office if they are not otherwise an elected member of the executive council.

Article VI
COMMITTEES

Section 1. Standing Committees.
The standing committees of the section shall consist of the following:

  • ADR Committee
  • Education and Publications Committee
  • Discovery Handbook Committee
  • Legislative Committee
  • Joint Committee with Conference of Circuit and County Court Judges Judicial Relations Committee
Section 2. Special Committees.
Special committees may be designated by the executive council with such duties and powers as may be directed and designated by the executive council.

Article VII
MEETINGS

Section 1. Annual Section Meeting.
The section shall hold its annual meeting in conjunction with the annual meeting of The Florida Bar. Notice to all members as to the time and place of such annual meeting shall be given at least 30 days in advance thereof.
Section 2. Annual Executive Council Meeting.
There shall be an annual meeting of the executive council following as soon as practicable the annual meeting of the section.
Section 3. Other Meetings.
There shall be such other regular or special meetings of the executive council and membership of the section as may be designated by the chair, provided that notice of such other meetings of the section shall be given to the membership at least 30 days in advance thereof.

Article VIII
AMENDMENTS

These bylaws may be amended at any annual meeting of the section by a majority vote of the members of the section present and voting, provided such proposed amendment shall first have been approved by a majority vote of the executive council and provided, further, that no amendment so adopted shall become effective until approved by the Board of Governors of The Florida Bar.

Article IX
MISCELLANEOUS

Section 1.
The fiscal year of the section shall be the same as that of The Florida Bar.
Section 2.
No salary or compensation shall be paid to any member of the section for performance of services to the section, but the executive council may authorize the payment of reasonable out-of-pocket expenses resulting from performance of such services.
Section 3.
No action of this section shall be contrary to the policies of The Florida Bar as established by its board of governors.