Greg Coleman with son Cody, being sworn in by Justice Ricky Polston. (Julie Kay)
West Palm Beach litigator Gregory Coleman was sworn in as the 66th president of the Florida Bar on Friday, vowing to serve as the Bar’s technology president while working to improve civility in the legal profession.
“We are bridging four generations of lawyers today, and they all communicate differently,” said Coleman, 51. “We need to bridge the gap.”
The Critton Luttier & Coleman attorney was sworn in at the annual Bar convention by Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Ricky Polston as his last official act as chief justice. Coleman’s wife, Monica, and 7-year-old son, Cody, stood by as he took his oath of office.
Ramon Abadin, a Miami litigator with Sedgwick, was sworn in as president-elect, giving South Florida a three-year run in Bar leadership. The Bar is the nation’s third largest with nearly 100,000 members.
Before the handoff, outgoing Bar president Eugene Pettis gave out awards to the following lawyers:
• Jay Cohen, senior partner in the Law Office of Jay Cohen in Fort Lauderdale, received an award of merit for leading the Vision 2016 Commission, which is examining the future of the legal profession. Cohen served on the Bar’s board of governors since 2008 and chaired board committees on legislation, program evaluation, budget and disciplinary review.
• Renee Thompson, a partner at Mateer & Harbert in Ocala who chaired the William Reece Smith Jr. Leadership Academy, received an award of merit. The created of the academy was Pettis’ primary mission during his presidency.
• Grier Wells, a shareholder in the Jacksonville office of GrayRobinson who has served on the board of governors since 2002, received an award of merit. He has taken a leadership role administering the clients’ security fund, which compensates clients who lose money due to embezzlement or misappropriation.
• Frank Scruggs, a partner with Berger Singerman in Fort Lauderdale, received an award of merit. He chaired a Bar task force studying enhancement of diversity in the judiciary and on judicial nominating commissions.
• Delano Stewart of Delano S. Stewart & Associates in Tampa received the 2014 G. Kirk Haas Humanitarian Award commemorating a Miami attorney who was recognized for his humanity, legal ethics and professionalism.
• Atlanta attorney Brian Burgoon received the Tony Boggs Excellence in Discipline Award named for an attorney who worked in the Bar’s lawyer regulation department for 27 years, overseeing thousands of lawyer disciplinary cases.
• Charles M. Fahlbusch, who serves as special counsel and senior assistant attorney general in Fort Lauderdale, received the Bar’s 2014 Claude Pepper Outstanding Government Lawyer Award. During his 29-year career in public service spanning the tenures of six attorney generals, Fahlbusch served as lead counsel in cases leading to more than 350 published opinions.
• Karen France, executive director of the Clearwater Bar Association, received the 2013 Marshall R. Cassedy Sr. Award commemorating the late executive director of the Bar. France was honored for developing a student internship program which finds placements for high school students interested in law careers.
On Thursday, the government lawyer section of the Bar presented a lifetime achievement award to former U.S. Sen. and Gov. Bob Graham, while the Bar’s standing committee on professionalism honored Hillsborough Circuit Judge Claudia Rickert Isom with the William M. Hoeveler Judicial Award. That award is named for the longtime U.S. district judge in Miami and honors judges who exemplify “strength of character, service and competence as a jurist, lawyer and public servant.”
Additionally, the probate and guardianship committee of the Dade County Bar Association received the Bar’s Standing Committee on Professionalism award for an innovative program to “promote and encourage professionalism within the legal community.”