By Ralph DeMeo, Chair
Florida Bar Journal, Vol. 91, No. 6 June 2017 Pg 52
I am very pleased to report that 2016-2017 saw the former Animal Law Committee (ALC) transform into the new Animal Law Section of The Florida Bar (ALS). As of the writing of this report, ALS has over 450 active members and is growing. I invite everyone to join our new and exciting section and participate in the development of this diverse and interesting area of law. ALS is open to anyone interested in animal law, regardless of whether you practice animal law. ALS is also open to affiliate members, such as law students, paralegals, and others involved or interested in animal-related activities.
Since The Florida Bar Board of Governors gave final approval to ALS in 2015, our members and leaders have worked hard to make our inaugural year a great success, which it has been by any reasonable measure. There are many people to recognize and thank, especially our BOG liaison, Scott Westheimer, our Bar administrator, Jeremy Citron, and our ALS executive council members, Gregg Morton (chair-elect), Gil Panzer (secretary), Bonnie Malloy (treasurer), Sarah Taitt, Jennifer Dietz, Laura Triplett, Phyllis Coleman, Peggy Hoyt, and Aleksandra Sikorska for their efforts and dedication. Special thanks to Gil Panzer who stepped down recently as ALS secretary and executive committee member after many years of service to ALC and ALS; Jennifer Dietz replaced Gil as secretary and Renée Thompson, our prior BOG liaison, replaced Gil as executive committee member.
Many others contributed as ALS Committee and subcommittee chairs, including Aleksandra Sikorska, who chaired our outstanding CLE Committee and organized our well-attended seminars and webinars; Laura Triplett and Gretchen Myers, who co-chaired our Publications and Communications Committee, and were responsible for our eUpdates, social media, website, and other publications; Sarah Taitt and Rachel Shaffer, who helped produce our excellent Paw Review newsletters; David Brunell, who helped maintain our popular Twitter page and served as Diversity Committee chair; Debbie Brown, who edited our well-written Bar Journal column articles; and Diana Ferguson, who chaired our Legislative Committee and produced timely, informative Florida legislative reports. Very special thanks are extended to Chair-Elect Gregg Morton for his efforts in doing whatever is asked of him to keep the ALS running smoothly.
One of our goals in becoming a section was to reach a wider audience, and during our first year, ALS has published a number of articles in The Florida Bar Journal on a wide array of animal law topics. Additionally, ALS has expanded the number of seminars with a webinar on service and emotional support animals in February and a joint program with the Tax Section in April. We also are continuing the tradition started by the committee to hold a seminar in conjunction with the Bar annual convention in Boca Raton. The seminar will host a number of distinguished speakers on a variety of topics.
To highlight another unique ALS activity, the section, Florida State College of Law’s Student Animal Legal Defense Fund, and Tallahassee-based, not-for-profit Pets Ad Litem, Inc. (PAL), sponsored the fourth annual Student Animal Law Legal Writing Competition. The winning student received $1,000, and the honorable mention received $100 from ALS and PAL. Articles are being accepted for the fifth annual competition.
I invite everyone interested in the ALS or its animal law-related activities to contact us, and again invite everyone to join the ALS by signing up for membership on the annual fee statement. Members of the Bar interested in being added to the ALS email notification list should contact Jeremy Citron of The Florida Bar at JCitron@floridabar.org. Questions about the ALS should be directed to me at RalphD@ghslaw.com or Gregg Morton at firstname.lastname@example.org. More information about ALS, including our publications, applications for membership, and links to our social media accounts can be found at our website www.flabaranimals.org.