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Month: December 2020

U.S. Army South Completes PKO-A 11, ‘Vital’ To Brazil’s Planning for World Cup, Olympics

first_img PKO-A 11 was designed to bring nations together to enhance regional relations, reinforce security arrangements, promote interoperability and obtain support for mutual security interests. In addition, the professional development engagements promote and improve cooperative measures and collective military capabilities, and support and enhance democracy and stability in the Latin American and Caribbean region. During PKO-A 11, participants negotiated their way through a mock election process. The scenario forced members of 16 different nations to work together to ensure the peaceful completion of a fictitious country’s elections, and also react to a simulated, mid-scenario earthquake that required the participants to plan and provide humanitarian assistance without losing site of the primary mission. “I know the friends I made here will help in the future,” said Brazilian Col. Paulo Eduardo Monteiro, a PKO-A 11 participant. “It really helps when you make a call and you recognize the voice on the other end. When you ask for help, you know he’ll come and support you.” ARSOUTH participated in the closing ceremony of PKO-A 11 in Brasilia, Brazil, May 13. PKO-A 11 is an annual, U.S. Army South-led, regionally oriented command post exercise involving partner nation armed forces from within the Western hemisphere. ARSOUTH was the executive planning agent for PKO-A 11. The Brazilian armed forces believes the U.S. Army South-led Peacekeeping Operations – Americas 2011 exercise has helped its country in its preparations to host two of the world’s largest sporting events. “The intent was for us to be able to capitalize on the abilities and the experiences of all the countries involved in terms of peacekeeping operations,” said Maj. Gen. Luis R. Visot, the PKO-A 11 co-director and commanding general of the 377th Theater Sustainment Command. “The key here was the exchange of ideas and to build trust in each other.” center_img “We will be able to gain from all the lessons we have learned here and move forward,” said Brazilian Maj. Gen. Fernando S. N. Ferreira, PKO-A 11 co-director. “Everything we gathered here will be vital to our ability to plan for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics.” Besides the technical skills developed during PKO-A 11, a secondary goal for the exercise was to develop working relationships among the many partner nations involved. By Dialogo May 24, 2011 The two-week command post exercise, which kicked off May 2, is the capstone event in a series of professional development engagements and command post exercises. These activities increased participants’ capabilities and prepared partner nations to conduct peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance operations worldwide. last_img read more


2014 Soccer World Cup Will Have Positive Impact on Brazilian GDP

first_img The 2014 soccer World Cup in Brazil will have a positive impact of 1.5 percentage points on that country’s gross domestic product (GDP) over the next three years, with the direct creation of at least 250,000 jobs, according to the bank Itaú Unibanco. The institution presented a study on the economic effects of hosting the World Cup, the first to be held in Brazil since 1950. Itaú Unibanco’s head economist, Illan Goldfajn, affirmed that public and private investment for the event will spur GDP growth and open the way to even greater expansion of the Brazilian economy over the long term. “The direct spending impact, both infrastructure and private-sector spending, accounts for 1 percent of GDP, and the remainder comes from the multiplier effect,” Goldfajn said. The Brazilian federal government has a budget of 20.6 billion dollars for investments in stadiums, airports, and transportation and communications infrastructure, among other areas directly linked to the World Cup. Private investment is concentrated in the tourism sector, chiefly in the construction of new hotels. The Brazilian Central Bank estimates GDP growth of 4 percent in 2011. Last year, the Brazilian economy grew approximately 7.5 percent. By Dialogo August 15, 2011last_img read more


Dominican Republic: Police dismantle international narcotics ring

first_img [EFE (Dominican Republic), 02/10/2012; El Comercio (Ecuador), 01/10/2012; El Nacional (Dominican Republic), 01/10/2012; El Excelsior (Mexico), 01/10/2012] By Dialogo October 03, 2012 SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic – A massive international narcotics ring coordinated by Dominicans, Jamaicans, Colombians, Venezuelans, Puerto Ricans, Americans and Bahamians that smuggled drugs from South America into the United States has been broken up, Dominican officials said. Rafael Senén Rosado Fermín, owner of Caribair, Sergio René Gómez Díaz and José Figueroa Ortiz were taken into custody on charges they were in charge of the operation. Dominican Army Lt. Col. Juan Ramón Rosado Pérez, three soldiers and a former National Police officer were also arrested on charges they protected and gave the ring information to elude authorities, said Gen. Rolando Rosado Mateo, chief of the National Direction of Drug Control (DNCD). Venezuelan José Veras Márquez, Puerto Rican Harry William Nazario, Americans Alberto Laureano and Daimond Mario Pérez, Bahamian Holmer Errol Outram and Dominicans Víctor Hugo Sánchez Portez, Danny Salvador Ramírez Cabral and Christian Suárez Javier were also among suspects who were arrested. The Dominican Republic was used as a refueling stop so planes carrying drugs could travel greater distances. “This organization managed even to penetrate the airport controls as a result of the assistance received at the airports, where they managed to recruit soldiers of different ranks and civilians to conduct their activities without problems or suspicion,” Rosado Mateo said. last_img read more


Drug Dealer Busted in Bolivia for Second Time in Four Years

first_imgBy Dialogo November 21, 2012 On November 18, for the second time in four years, the Bolivian Police arrested a drug trafficker that smuggled drugs across the Amazon, and who was based in the northern department of Pando, near the Brazilian border, informed the Ministry of Interior. “Minister of Government Carlos Romero, confirmed the arrest of Mauro Vásquez, one of the most wanted and dangerous drug traffickers that was established in Pando,” said the government office in a statement to AFP. Mauro Vásquez was arrested for the first time in 2008, but it was not known until now that he had escaped from prison in the city of Cobija, in Pando, near the Brazilian border. Minister Romero added that “this is a very important individual in drug trafficking; we had been chasing Mauro Vásquez for a long time.” He also said that “the police operation concluded in the border city of Cobija, where Vásquez set up a criminal structure to traffic drugs through the Bolivian Amazon.” According to the U.S. State Department, Bolivia is the second producer of cocaine worldwide, after Colombia and ahead of Peru.last_img read more


Colombia Neutralizes Four Members of FARC’s Front 63

first_img The detainee was assisted on site by medics, and later transported to a specialized medical center in the town of Florencia by the National Police’s Special Team of Criminal Investigations, where he will be brought to justice. The Joint Task Force Omega troops continued to conduct military operations in the area, with the aim of neutralizing the terrorist threat and preserving security and safety for the civilian population in the region. The actions were conducted in Cartagena del Chaira municipality, Caquetá, where troops of the Army’s 22nd Mobile Brigade confronted terrorists of Front 63, a criminal structure headed by aka Wilmer “el Burro” (the Donkey). During the clashes, an insurgent surrendered voluntarily and handed over three rifles, 80 cartridges, and a homemade grenade; another terrorist was captured, while the other two, wearing military uniforms and carrying two Galil rifles and two campaign devices, were killed. center_img By Dialogo September 04, 2013 Colombian authorities reported the voluntary surrender of a member of FARC’s Front 63, the capture of another insurgent and the death of two other terrorists during a military operation launched by troops of the Joint Task Force Omega against the FARC’s Southern Block, on September 1. last_img read more


World Cup: Brazil’s Military Police improves security

first_img Street gangs The goal of the UPPs is to not only improve security for Brazilians, but to also help ensure that the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics unfold peacefully. Millions of visitors from around the world are expected to come to Rio de Janeiro for the two sporting events. Brazil has spent nearly $33 billion to build and improve infrastructure, such as public roads, in preparation for the two sports events. “Public security is of special interest to us,” Sports Minister Aldo Rebelo said during the 2013 Confederation Cup competition, which was held in Brazil from June 15 to June 30. The Brazilian government will provide sufficient security to protect local residents, as well as the many people who come to the country for the sports events, he said. Preventing attacks In the favelas, the UPPs are concentrating on confronting the Red Command, which is the oldest and largest gang in Brazil, and the FCC. Prison inmates formed the Red Command in the 1960s. The late 1970s, the gang was operating criminal enterprises outside of prison. The Red Command formed alliances with Colombian cartels in the 1980s to sell large quantities of cocaine in Brazil. A younger generation of prison inmates formed the FCC in the 1990s. The gang stole $16 million from a bank in Sao Paulo in 1999. Brazilian security forces closely followed the investigation into the April 2013 bombing of the Boston Marathon. Foreign Minister Antonio Patriota told reporters that “all necessary measures” will be taken to ensure the World Cup and the Olympics are safe. “We are confident there will be measures which will guarantee the security of the events,” Patriota said. Though Brazil has never been the target of a terrorist attack, security officials were preparing for the possibility of a terrorist attack even before the Boston Marathon bombing, authorities said. Continuing security center_img The Brazilian Military Police (PM) is working aggressively to improve security in and near Rio de Janeiro in preparation for the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic Games. In poor urban neighborhoods known as “favelas,” Police Pacifying Units (UPPs) are confronting and capturing members of the two largest organized crime groups in Brazil the Red Command and the First Capital Command (FCC).The two gangs engage in drug trafficking, extortion, illegal gambling, and kidnapping. The PM launched the security operation in August 2013. More than 1,000 police officers are helping improve security in the favelas. Major sporting events By Dialogo October 03, 2013 The effort is different from previous police operations. In previous operations, PM agents would sweep through neighborhoods and make large numbers of arrests, then leave. The UPPs are not merely conducting brief raids. They are staying in the favelas to provide stability and continuing security. “Currently, there are 30 UPPs that cover 50 to 60 Brazilian communities. Their mission is to control their territory and bring peace to the people,” said security analyst Ignacio Cano, who is also a professor in the social sciences department at the University of Rio de Janeiro. last_img read more


U.S. Marines and Sailors Make an Impact in Central America

first_imgBy U.S. Marine Corps Forces South Sergeant Melissa Martens November 14, 2017 Throughout their six-month deployment, U.S. marines and sailors with Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force – Southern Command (SPMAGTF-SC) have participated in the command volunteer program to offer their time and services to several countries in Central America. The command volunteer program was designed to create, track, and maximize volunteerism with the service members, and provide opportunities for them to make a difference in the local communities. “Working with the local population gave marines and sailors an opportunity to take advantage of every moment they had on this deployment,” said U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Keshia Powell, the religious program specialist with SPMAGTF-SC. “One of our missions was to build relationships with the host nation countries, so what better way to do that than investing time in their people.” Some of the opportunities the task force has participated in included volunteering at local orphanages, cleaning up parks, organizing soccer games in the community, and building homes with Habitat for Humanity. “Over 175 SPMAGTF-SC personnel have volunteered over 7,000 hours at 74 different projects throughout Central America,” said U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander Christopher Stanfield, the SPMAGTF-SC chaplain. “These community relations events have greatly enhanced the host nation communities and partnerships, and were of significant personal value to individual service members.” For the marines and sailors, many of whom are experiencing their first time outside of the United States, interacting with the community firsthand provided ample opportunity for the task force to see the positive impact they can have on those around them. “Participating in these events gave us more insight and opened our eyes to seeing more than our everyday life,” said Lance Corporal Kaitlyn M. Erkson, intelligence specialist with the Aviation Combat Element, SPMAGTF-SC. “It was a humbling experience and it is something that I hope we will all take back with us and continue to do in our communities back home.” Building partner relations was a primary mission of SPMAGTF-SC. This included partnership not only with the host nations, but with their fellow service members in Joint Task Force – Bravo (JTF-Bravo), at Soto Cano Air Base in Honduras. Since 1997, service members from JTF-Bravo have supported more than 500 children at five different orphanages in Comayagua, Honduras. The opportunity for the marines and sailors of SPMAGTF-SC to integrate with them has greatly benefited the children and opened doors to more opportunities. “We are all here together working towards the same goal,” said U.S. Army Specialist Brittany R. Troha, religious affairs specialist with JTF-Bravo. “The people that we go visit and help will be the future. The partnership between the branches is a great way to shed light on teamwork, which is something we try to teach those we interact with.” Aside from interacting and developing strong bonds with local people, the service members have a unique opportunity to use their individual skills and talents to make a lasting imprint on those they serve. “Many of the marines and sailors on this deployment are reservists,” said Petty Officer 2nd Class Powell. “Because of this, many of the service members have different skill sets they use on the civilian side. For example, we have former English as a Second Language teachers, sports coaches and artists. These areas of expertise will benefit the people for years to come.” In addition to the community relations events, marines and sailors with SPMAGTF-SC completed engineering projects in Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras, as well as conducted security cooperation training with their counterparts in several other Central American and Caribbean nations. The unit also participated in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts in the Caribbean Sea as part of Joint Task Force – Leeward Islands in response to hurricanes Irma and Maria.last_img read more


House panel hears Art. V bill

first_imgHouse panel hears Art. V bill House panel hears Art. V bill Associate Editor Fending off legislation that would dramatically politicize the judiciary and gut The Florida Bar, President Herman Russomanno came to the House Committee on Judicial Oversight armed with the firepower of legal luminaries with the combined experience of 462 years. Former Florida Supreme Court Justices Alan Sundberg and Stephen Grimes stepped up to the podium March 14 to register grave concerns about several bills that would dramatically change the way courts are run and how justices get their jobs, as well as strip the Bar of its unified role in fully regulating lawyers and eliminate its role in the judicial nominating commission process. They were joined by former Bar presidents Ben Hill III and John Frost, Florida Bar Board of Governors lay members Dr. Alvin Smith and Vivian Hobbs, Eighth Circuit Judge Stan Morris,Virgil Hawkins Florida Chapter of the National Bar Association President Craig Gibbs, Cuban American Bar Association President Michael Diaz, Kelly O’Keefe of Florida Association for Women Lawyers, and lawyers Barry Richard and Thom Rumberger. (see story, page 9) All echoed the sentiments of Russomanno, who said: “Simply stated, The Florida Bar takes the position that this bill, as written, is an assault on the independence of the Bar and an assault on the independence of the court. It would politicize the process and set back our system of justice well over 100 years.. . . We want to bring our case to the people, because if you understand the role of the Bar and the role of the court and the separation of powers, you will see the flaws, the fatal flaws, in this legislation.” Drastic changes to the courts and Bar, as proposed in joint resolution HJR 627 by Rep. Fred Brummer, R-Apopka, would strip the Bar of its authority to comprehensively regulate Florida’s 68,000 lawyers; create by statute “Super District Courts of Appeal” with exclusive statewide jurisdiction on any issue; require a two-thirds vote, rather than the current majority, to retain appellate judges; and would eliminate judicial nominating commissions, giving the governor the sole authority to nominate and appoint judges, with advice and consent of the Senate. Other aspects of Brummer’s bill eliminate the distinction between substantive law and procedural rules, require that all court rules conform to statutes, and authorize the legislature to repeal rules by a simple majority, rather than the current two-thirds vote. Members of the Judiciary Oversight Committee also heard briefly from Rep. Carey Baker, R-Eustis, on HJR 655 that would require lawyers to run for statewide election to serve as justices of the Supreme Court and would limit their terms to eight years, as well as Rep. Randy Johnson, R-Winter Garden, on HJR 783 regarding electing justices and district court of appeal judges, with eight-year term limits. And Rep. Jerry Melvin, R-Ft. Walton Beach, promised he would once again file a bill to put the regulation of lawyers under the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. Rep. Brummer said he is just trying to level the playing field between lawyers and other professions. He said he wants to end the special privilege he views lawyers are enjoying because the Bar is interlocked with the Florida Supreme Court. “Attorneys practicing law have special treatment under the Florida Constitution that no other profession has, where the integration of the Bar and the courts permits a relationship nowhere else seen,” said Brummer, a certified public accountant. “Back in the ’60s and ’70s, CPAs used to regulate CPAs. Back in the ’60s and ’70s, the real estate association used to regulate Realtors. Those practices were set aside and were replaced by regulation by the legislature through the executive branch. So retaining the Bar interlocked with the courts, I think, establishes an elitist situation for attorneys.” Speaking in support of portions of the proposed legislation dealing with revamping the JNCs was attorney George Meros, Jr., who represents the complainant in the recent First District Court of Appeal JNC inquiry. Meros also represents 300 businesses, individuals, and associations in a coalition to change tort laws. Also voicing his approval of the proposed legislation was Ted Hires, the complainant in that JNC controversy who is also the founder of the Justice Coalition, a Jacksonville victims’ advocacy group, who wants judges elected, and Terry Kemble, executive director of the Florida Christian Coalition, who wants candidates for judge or sitting judges to be free to give their views on positions. “To think a judge can sit on the bench and make decisions on important cases without taking into account that judge’s upbringing, philosophical beliefs, religious belief, it’s ludicrous to think that that can happen,” Kemble said. “So if judges are going to make decisions based on those beliefs, it seems to me that we ought to be able to know before we vote for them what those beliefs are.” But Grimes warned: “If judges go very far in expressing their views, then how will a litigant feel coming before the judge on the opposing side? It’s a dangerous area to open up too far.” At the end of the four-hour workshop in which no vote was taken, Brummer said more time was needed to hear from more supporters of his bill, and he requested another workshop. The committee must set a date for another meeting at which it will vote on whether to send Brummer’s proposed amendment to the constitution to the House floor for a vote. To succeed, Brummer’s resolution requires a three-fifths vote from both the House and Senate, which in turn would authorize an amendment to the state constitution for a vote in the November 2002 election. Most of the workshop was filled with the voices of those who think the Bar is doing a good job regulating lawyers and rose to defend the current system of how appellate judges are chosen and the way the courts are run. Some of those voices came from the lawyer members serving on the Judicial Oversight Committee, in the form of questions they asked: • Rep. Dudley Goodlette, R-Naples: “I formerly served proudly on the Board of Governors of The Florida Bar. I think the Bar does an outstanding job of regulating lawyers, and so I have a very significant problem with this portion of the bill, as well as other portions.. . . I’m troubled by this notion, Rep. Brummer, and I have to be careful, because I don’t mean for this comment to be a criticism of the DBPR in the role they serve in regulating cosmetologists and engineers and CPAs and others. But I’m quite proud of the fact that I know that when a colleague of mine happens to go astray and steals money from their clients’ trust account, they don’t have a license to practice law two days later. I am concerned that public policy would be most well-served to preserve that kind of system, rather than to destroy that kind of system.” • Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Dania Beach (regarding proposed legislation that would allow the judge in a civil case to assess the full cost of services on the nonprevailing party): “You are a certified public accountant, Rep. Brummer, and that’s why I think it’s fair to pose this question to you. In your own mind, what costs have you anticipated being taxed against the nonprevailing party in a civil action? And how do you reconcile this provision on assessment of costs with Article 1, Section 21 of our constitution, which says the courts shall be open to every person for redress of any injury and justice shall be administered without sale?” Brummer answered: “Keep in mind that the way we structured this is that it does not apply if the judge so decides.” • Rep. Larry Crow, R-Dunedin: “You’re talking about the two-thirds vote for the retention of judges. That basically amounts to a one-third veto of a judge. Correct? Doesn’t that fly in the face of a theory of a republican democracy and the rule of the majority?” Brummer answered: “We’re talking about running against no one. And if you are running against no one, and you’re only pulling 40 percent of the vote, you’ve got serious, serious problems regarding accountability.. . . That two-thirds number comes from this House. If you want to roll over our bills without a third reading, for instance.. . There’s so many things that we do based on two-thirds of the vote. In order to modify, for instance, our Death Penalty Reform Act, we had to get two-thirds of the vote. That’s as simple as it comes.. . . Two-thirds is a real benchmark that we have to reach. So I don’t see when you’re running against no one, I don’t see that it’s unreachable at all.” • Rep. Jack Seiler, D-Ft. Lauderdale, (directed to Meros, who criticized the way the Bar handled the First DCA JNC complaint and inquiry): “You say you are trying to improve the Bar. This bill guts the Bar. This doesn’t improve anything. This clearly, plainly, and simply guts The Florida Bar. And I feel it infringes on the separation of powers. I don’t know how that can be deemed as improving the system.” Meros answered: “First of all, obviously, it takes away the integrated Bar. I would respectfully disagree with you that that is a separation of powers issue.. . . The JNC issue is very symptomatic of the fact that the Bar is showing that it is not willing to evaluate itself. And if it is not willing to evaluate itself, without it appearing to be an attack, then perhaps that arrogance means that it is becoming destructive.” • Rep. Jeff Kottkamp, R-Cape Coral, (directed to Meros): “I recognize that in the zealous advocacy of your client, you are very concerned about this one instance [1st DCA]. But there are thousands of instances where this [JNC] process has worked very well. I want to ask you about changing this process of how we regulate the Bar. There has been a movement in our state to deregulate. It’s been downsizing government and reducing the size of government. Do you really believe in your heart of hearts that government is better to regulate the legal profession than The Florida Bar?” Meros answered: “I will be absolutely honest with you. I don’t know. I know that what has happened, to some extent, is that The Florida Bar has become a government. It is an entity with its own life. I think The Florida Bar has done fantastic things in some disciplinary areas. With regard to trust accounts, they have done a fantastic job. I think with regard to solicitation rules and advertising, they have done a horrible job.” • Rep. Joe Pickens, R-Palatka (directed to Sundberg): “Can you tell me the standard the judge would apply if he knew what the costs were in determining whether a nonprevailing party would be assessed costs, which is discretionary? How do I tell my client in assessing the case what the prospects of their being assessed costs are if they are a nonprevailaing party, if I can’t see the standard which the judge will be applying in any particular case?” Sundberg answered: “What guidelines? What signposts do they use? I have no earthly idea, and I don’t think most trial judges would either. But you know, there is a more important issue here, and that has to do with due process. Under our system, except for fee-shifting statutes in particular instances, people don’t run the risk, in order to try to vindicate their rights, they don’t run the risk that if they lose they have to bear the cost of the proceeding. That is perceived to be a cost of government and that we afford our citizens to come into court. That’s what Article 1, Section 21 is all about.” • Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Lakeland, (directed to Grimes): “Is there any part of this bill, any provision being proposed, that you may find favorable?” And Grimes answered there was only one portion worth keeping: doing away with the requirement that justices on the Supreme Court come from each judicial district. “But it’s not important enough to have a constitutional amendment about,” Grimes concluded. In his remarks to the committee, Russomanno said: “Yesterday, [in the House Council for Smarter Government] some of us had the opportunity to talk to Rep. Brummer on House Bill 627, and he made a quote when he closed on that piece of legislation that he salutes The Florida Bar for doing a fine job in serving the public. He went on to compliment the leadership of the Bar in the strides that have been taken. On behalf of the 68,000 lawyers in this state, I thank Rep. Brummer for those kind words, because I take his sincerity to heart. The Bar does an excellent job. So let there not be any misunderstanding: The Bar regulates itself well. We want this committee to know that The Florida Bar works fine. It’s a model for other states. We have people who serve on the Board of Governors of the ABA that look toward this state as a model. It’s one of the leading bars — if not the leading bar — in this country on attorney regulation. And there are no facts to controvert that.” April 1, 2001 Jan Pudlow Associate Editor Regular Newslast_img read more


Barnett, Barrera win Medal of Honor awards

first_img Barnett, Barrera win Medal of Honor awards Martha W. Barnett, the first woman to serve as the chair of the ABA House of Delegates and the second woman president of the ABA, received The Florida Bar Foundation 2002 Medal of Honor for a lawyer.Raul G. Barrera was also honored with a Foundation Medal of Honor for his contribution to the improvement in the administration of justice as a non-lawyer.The awards were presented at the Foundation’s 26th annual reception and dinner June 20 in Boca Raton in conjunction with the Bar’s Annual Meeting.Barnett received her award for “her courageous support of a moratorium on the death penalty, her determined work benefiting the descendants of the 1923 Rosewood massacre, and her advocacy to maintain the impartiality of the judicial system.”The Foundation said Barnett challenged the traditional roles of women in law, becoming the first female attorney to join the law firm of Holland & Knight and later to become its first female partner. Practicing in the areas of administrative and governmental law, she has distinguished herself as a leading lobbyist in the state. In 1994, Barnett’s commitment to human rights assisted in securing $2.1 million for surviving descendants of the 1923 Rosewood Massacre, a tragedy which resulted in the deaths of eight black men and women and destroyed a predominately African-American Florida town.That same year saw Barnett as the first woman to serve as the chair of the ABA House of Delegates. In 2000, Barnett went on to become the second female president of the ABA, using her position in an effort to promote a moratorium on the death penalty.“Throughout these many roles, Barnett has proven time and time again to be a champion of the rights of the poor and unpopular,” according to the Foundation.Barrera was nominated by Florida Legal Services, Inc. Barrera has dedicated more than 35 years to secure justice for migrant farmworkers.Barrera, a paralegal, began his career as an outreach worker for migrant farm-workers in Indiana in 1967, and in less than 10 years rose to the position of Indiana State Director of Associated Migrant Opportunity Services. In 1977, Raul joined the staff of Texas Rural Legal Aid, Inc., where he again provided outreach services in extremely isolated rural areas of Texas. During this time, he also developed community education programs, represented migrant farmworkers in administrative hearings, and assisted in major litigation lawsuits aimed at improving the lives of migrant workers. In 1996, Raul moved to Florida to serve as the only outreach worker on the Migrant Farmworker Justice Project, providing outreach expertise and maintaining contact with hundreds of isolated migrant farmworkers throughout the state.“His accomplishments in this position are the result of Raul’s steadfast and tireless commitment, offering inspiration to the abused worker that justice will be served on their behalf,” according to the Foundation.The Florida Bar Foundation Medal of Honor Award Program was established in 1977 to recognize outstanding achievements in improving the administration of justice in Florida. Two categories of award recipients have been designated. The first is for a member of The Florida Bar who has demonstrated his or her dedication to the objectives of The Florida Bar as set out in the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar: “.. . to inculcate in its members the principles of duty and service to the public, to improve the administration of justice and to advance the science of jurisprudence.” The second is for a nonlawyer or person not actively engaged in the practice of law who has made an outstanding contribution to the improvement of the administration of justice through research, writing, or other deeds of such character and quality that, in the judgment of the Foundation, warrant the highest award that can be bestowed by the Foundation. July 15, 2002 Regular Newscenter_img Barnett, Barrera win Medal of Honor awardslast_img read more


Practice Tips

first_img January 15, 2003 Regular News Four steps to building great client relationships Practice Tipscenter_img Dustin A. Cole President Attorneys Master ClassMany attorneys believe their next client relationship will be “the luck of the draw” so to speak. To some extent that’s true. But it’s absolutely possible to build a practice that is virtually free of problem clients and has strong cash flow — if you’re willing to refine or redesign your client intake and communications processes.There are four basic steps firms can take to dramatically increase the quality and consistency of their client relationships and help maintain good cash flow. Step One: Choose Your Clients CarefullyIf you have attorneys who believe that, on a slow week, the prospect of a little revenue from an “F” client is better than no revenue at all — they need to think again. “F” clients — the ones who their gut is already telling them will be trouble — usually end up costing them and the firm far more in time, overhead, stress, and aggravation than they will ever pay in fees. In fact, the unpaid fees are only part of the issue. Perhaps more important is the time they take, which attorneys could better use for client development or taking better care of “A” clients. “F” clients actually hold the attorney back from taking positive actions to build their practice, and create undue stress on both attorney and staff.So, when an obvious “F” client is encountered, the attorney should just say “no.” Better that they use their time for building their practice than to give it away to a client without scruples. And beware — not every “F” client is obvious. Attorneys should spend more time with every prospective client, asking questions and listening carefully to answers, attitudes, and implications, to identify potential “F” clients.Let’s make an important distinction between the pro bono client and the “F” client. Pro bono work is important, but the wise attorney chooses pro bono work up front rather than discovering halfway through a matter that they’re working for free. Step Two: Educate and Set Standards for the RelationshipIn fact, a good client selection process starts before the attorney ever meets with the prospective client. It starts with the initial call to the attorney’s office. The attorney’s assistant can ask some basic questions that disqualify some prospective clients from making an appointment at all. These might be questions like:• “What is the matter concerning?” (Is it even in the attorney’s practice area?)• “Have you worked with more than one other attorney on this matter?” (Odds are that, if the caller has consulted with more than one other attorney, either they or the matter spells trouble.)• “M. Jones has an initial consultation fee of $200. Will you be paying by credit card or check?” (Most of those who will balk at a nominal initial retainer will be “shoppers” looking for free advice, and not serious prospects.)• “Who referred you to our office?” (The assistant should have a list of the attorney’s referral sources, and make anyone referred by them a priority.) Step Three: Define the Working Relationship and Set Client ExpectationsAttorneys often jump directly into case details as soon as the client has agreed to work with them. They’re off and running, already immersing themselves in the familiar process of developing a case strategy. Unfortunately, they may well have left their client at the starting gate.“Client communications” is one of the most frequent causes of bar grievances, with good reason. Clients are seldom told what the structure and standards are in terms of communication.It’s vitally important to remember that the vast majority of clients have never used an attorney before, and therefore have no idea how the relationship will work. To them their matter is by far the most important item on the attorney’s agenda. Without such an understanding, they will form their own expectations about how the relationship should work. And invariably, it’s very different from the attorney’s modus operandi.Therefore it’s important that clients be provided with very specific information on how they and the attorney will work together at the very beginning of the relationship, before they form their own expectations. Rather than simply giving them an agreement to sign — or worse, to take home and sign (they’ll never read it all) — they should be walked through a detailed and structured process. This includes: 1) A verbal guided tour through the agreement.a) What will and will not be included in the representation.b) Terms of the retainer agreement. 2) A financial discussion.a) What fees will be charged for what type of work.b) Details on how fees are charged.i) Hourly and partial-hour rates.ii) How phone calls are charged.iii) How e-mails are charged.iv) Types of charges which may appear without client involvement: Research, depositions, strategy meetings, meetings with other lawyers, travel if necessary, copying and materials, other costs, direct and indirect.c) How the retainer works.d. How billings will be handled.i) How soon after being recorded will hours be billed.ii) Who to call for questions on their bill.e) What happens when payment is past due.i) 10 days — first reminder call.ii) 20 days — second reminder call.iii) 30 days — work is suspended or motion to withdraw is sent. 3) How communications are best facilitated.a) Best times to call to speak with the attorney.b) Hours the attorney will normally not be available to speak with them.c) How and when calls will be returned.d) Who can help if the attorney is not available.e) What times of day and week office meetings are normally scheduled.f) What kinds of materials they’ll be copied on.i) How they’ll be informed of what to do with them: For their file, for their response or action.g) What to do when the call is an emergency.h) Times when it is important to call the attorney.Of course, all of this should be provided in writing, and tucked into a good-looking folder where they can collect everything the attorney’s office sends them. The entire walkthrough can be accomplished in 15-30 minutes, and can be done by a paralegal or associate. This small amount of time upfront will reap considerable benefits:• It will set the “context” of the working relationship and reduce client stress during the process.• It will save the attorney and staff uncounted hours answering calls. It will reduce client frustration around having calls returned. It will encourage clients to speak to others in the office.• It will clarify their financial obligations and the consequences of not meeting them• It will provide written “standards” which can be referred to when they express concerns over the working relationship. Step Four: Live by Your Own StandardsIf the attorney sets standards for the client, they need to be prepared to live by them, or all of the foregoing was wasted time.Don’t take nonurgent phone calls during hours indicated as “not available” just because you have a moment. The client will decide you should always take them.Train staff to direct calls to the paralegal or associate for assistance. Return calls promptly as per the standard given the client. Have others return calls you can’t get to within the time standard. Copy the client with all promised materials, with instructions on what to do with it (read and file, read and respond, etc.)Bill within the standard set, follow up on overdue billings per the standard, and take actions as indicated in the standard.Many an “A” client slips to “D” or “E” or even “F” because of lack of understanding of the communications process and lack of standards enforcement. When they fail to pay bills and the attorney continues to work, they learn they don’t have to pay. When the attorney takes a week to return their call, they come to believe their problem isn’t important to the attorney. When they receive unidentified papers in the mail, they get worried and fearful.The cumulative result is a good client who starts to act like a poor one. All because no one educated them on the process and the working relationship, and no one in the attorney’s office is operating on a standard.Sound like a lot of work? Then think about the time an attorney spends working for free unintentionally, and the stress caused by an unhappy client — or worse, the grievance filed by one. Then, think about an office free of “F” clients and filled with less stressed and more satisfied clients (and staff).Take steps now to build and implement a more structured client intake and communications system, for the sake of your clients — and your sanity. Dustin Cole is president of Attorneys Master Class, a company which helps firms maximize revenues by enhancing attorney skills. Cole specializes in working with partners experiencing challenges or setbacks in their practices, and with practice groups to increase productivity. For more information go to www.attorneysmasterclass.com or contact Cole at (407) 830-9810 or via e-mail at dustin@attorneysmasterclass.com.last_img read more