|Message From The President
Leslie J. Castaldi
For those of you who do not know me, I would like to share some things about myself. I am neither a Gator nor Seminole. Rather, I am a Nittany Lion (Penn State undergraduate and proud of it) and a Villanova Wildcat (law school). I have practiced law for the past 27 years. The early part of my career was spent in Philadelphia, I am licensed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey (on inactive status), and Florida. I have practiced in Florida since August 2001. I also have sat on the Board of Directors for Brevard County Legal Aid for many years; I currently serve as the Chairperson of the Board of Adjustment for the City of Satellite Beach; and I am a member of the Vassar B. Carlton American Inn of Court.The Installation Dinner at the Brevard Zoo was a really fun event, despite torrential rain and the lakes of water that our guests had to wade through to get to the event! After the program finished, we walked outside and were greeted by a rainbow. I thought that might be an omen for a successful year.
At the Installation, we honored six 50-year Florida Bar members. We recognized Judge Roberts as the Volie Williams Clarence Johnson Outstanding Jurist for his loyal participation in the High School Mock Trial Competition. We recognized Judge John Harris with the Chief Judge Award for all of his hard work during his term as Chief Judge of the 18th Judicial Circuit. We also recognized Brooke Deratany-Goldfarb with the A. Max Brewer Community Service Award. Brooke has volunteered for and participated in such organizations as the Brevard County Boys and Girls Club, the Women’s Center, the Henegar Center for the Arts, the Space Coast Ballet, and the 18th Judicial Circuit Judicial Nominating Committee, among many other organizations. She also is the new President of the Brevard Bar Foundation. Thank you, Brooke, for your significant contributions to our community. We also congratulate Krystal Wald, the new President of the Young Lawyers Division, and Pierre Mommers, who received the first J. Preston Silvernail Civility Award.
I am very excited about the upcoming year. You have elected a great group of committed people to serve as your Board of Directors. I want to welcome our 2 new Board members: Jay Thakkar and Steve Casanova, both of whom have a lot of energy and I look forward to working with them. This group is so committed to the mission of the BCBA that seven members (I, Bryan Lober, Michelle Studstill, Michelle Naberhaus, Andrew Pickett, Guna Ose, and Philip Zies) as well as outgoing BCBA President Mark Peters and former BCBA President Ashley Hardee, took time out of their busy work schedules and time away from their families to attend the Voluntary Bar Leaders Conference in Palm Beach this past weekend. The Voluntary Bar Leaders Conference is an excellent opportunity to exchange ideas and discover better ways to serve you, the members of the BCBA. We all are very inspired by the ideas that we came away with, including ways to raise revenue without raising dues; create effective CLEs; identify and obtain sponsors; implement new technology, mentoring, long-range planning, and inclusiveness, among other issues. We also met many other bar leaders who have been committed to their organizations for a long time and who shared a wealth of information, resources, and assistance.
During the upcoming year, the BCBA will offer programs and events that are designed to accomplish the goals of our mission statement, which mandates us to:
• Promote professionalism, ethics, and competence in the legal community;
• Advance improvements in the law and how we practice;
• Educate BCBA members and the public in matters pertaining to the law and the profession;
• Assist in the delivery of competent and affordable legal services in the County; and
• Encourage fellowship and collegiality among our members.
Therefore, we will continue with our CLE programs in the Fall and Spring. We are planning several Sidebar Luncheons. The annual High School Mock Trial Competition and our Law Day poster and essay contest involve our local students in the law and the legal process. The BCBA will continue to support and assist the Brevard County Legal Aid, on whose Board I also sit, to ensure that more of our disadvantaged citizens have access to legal representation and services. Finally, our social events, such as College Pride Night, the Mix and Mingle with the Judges, and the Holiday Party, allow attorneys to get to know one another in a non-adversarial and fun setting. We are also working hard to rekindle the annual Bench-Bar Softball game. I will work very hard to ensure that these programs flourish.
In addition to these traditional programs, I invite your ideas for ideas for CLEs and Sidebar Luncheons and for new programs and events that will accomplish our goals to promote, improve, and educate our profession, as well as activities that are fun and promote collegiality. In addition, we always are looking for your contributions to the Ex Parte.
As I mentioned in my address at the Installation Dinner, several Bar leaders, including the President of the Florida Bar, Ramon Abadin, and the President of the Florida Bar Foundation, Bruce Blackwell, spoke to us at the Voluntary Bar Leaders Conference about the changes and challenges facing attorneys and the legal profession. They explained that the failure of our legal system to provide access to civil justice to most of our population, coupled with evolving technology and easy access to information, are going to force lawyers to practice law in a different way. They warned that attorneys need to pay attention and mentioned concepts such as nationwide reciprocity and para-professional licensing being tested around the nation. Many attorneys are not happy to hear about these ideas, so we need to be part of the conversation. Mr. Blackwell has offered to come to Brevard County to discuss these issues with us, and I will explore that offer. In any event, the BCBA Board will focus on how we can help our fellow attorneys meet some of these changes and challenges.
We, as your Board members, know that we are here to serve you and, while I cannot promise any particular result, I do promise to work very hard this year to meet the needs of our members and to work with the Officers and Directors to lay a foundation for the work of the BCBA into the future.
Thank you for your confidence in me and allowing me to serve as your President.