The Florida Bar

The Florida Bar is accepting applications for its seventh class of the Wm. Reece Smith, Jr., Leadership Academy

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November 20, 2018

Applications for Class 7 available December 1


Beginning December 1, the Bar is accepting applications for its seventh class of the Wm. Reece Smith, Jr., Leadership Academy, which will meet for the first time at the Bar’s Annual Convention in June as the sixth class graduates.

Applications can be found on the academy’s page on the Bar’s website.

“You can fill out the application online. You need letters of reference, and there are three essay questions,” said Leadership Academy Committee Co-Chair Anthony Visone, a graduate of the Leadership Academy’s second class. “The essays are really important. That’s how we can get a feel for who these people are, because we don’t have face-to-face interviews.”

“We’re looking for attorneys who have demonstrated leadership acumen,” said class 1 alum and the other committee co-chair, John Howe. “We’re looking for people who have some practice experience, but we have selected very young attorneys, as well, if they have demonstrated in a short amount of time that they have leadership skills and leadership abilities. We have selected attorneys with 10-plus years of experience [including both Visone and Howe] for the same reasons. They have shown leadership abilities in different areas.”

“We want to encourage Bar involvement,” Visone added. “It’s not how many years you’ve been practicing. You could have been practicing for 10 years but maybe you’ve never been on a committee before, you’ve never been involved with a section before. You want to learn more about those things. We look for that.”

The academy has evolved over the years. Its first two classes had around 60 members, but it was decided that was too many for academy members to get to know each other. The size was gradually reduced until two years ago it reached its current 30 members.

“The feedback we’ve gotten is that’s an effective number; you shouldn’t be graduating with someone you haven’t met,” Visone said.

Added Howe: “The feedback has been very positive on their ability to grow and take advantage of the academy.”

Past members guide the academy’s evolution. Visone and Howe said 28 of the Leadership Academy Committee’s 41 members are alumni, and their feedback and that of other members is used to refine the program.

They also said former members are active in recruiting new academy participants, and they anticipate four or more applications for every vacancy in the 2019-20 class.

Entire article with video clip