On 17 January, Brazilian Army helicopters sped up the tasks of rescue and bringing in supplies in areas impacted by the landslides and floods that have left at least 655 dead and contacted people who had been isolated for several days. A helicopter rescued five people in the morning, the Air Force said in a statement, due to the fact that improved weather conditions allowed the aircraft to fly more easily over the most affected areas, located around one hundred kilometers north of Río de Janeiro. Hundreds of people are believed to still be in areas at risk of new landslides, some of them isolated by washed-out roads and bridges, while others are refusing to leave for fear that their homes might be looted. The Army is operating four helicopters from an improvised base at the Brazilian national soccer team’s training field in Teresópolis. Heavy rains led to one of the worst natural disasters in Brazil’s history during the second week in January, when an avalanche of mud, water, and rocks leveled towns and villages in the picturesque region. The poorest residents, who lived in precarious homes, suffered the worst of the tragedy. The death toll has continually risen as rescue workers have dug more bodies out from under the mud and debris. The authorities have not issued an official estimate of the number of missing, but the local newspaper Folha de São Paulo said Monday that 120 people had not been found. Some residents have complained about what they characterize as a slow response by the authorities in sending basic supplies to isolated communities and helping those affected to dig out their deceased relatives and friends. “We want to go. We have no news, we don’t know whether our relatives have died,” Paulo da Silva, one of forty residents of an isolated area, told Folha de São Paulo. On 16 January, a new landslide near Petrópolis left three people dead, the local press reported, making evident the risks inherent in the forecasts of more rain for the region in coming days. By Dialogo January 19, 2011
By Dialogo February 08, 2011 On 7 February, Colombian Vice President Angelino Garzón said that as a condition for negotiations with the FARC guerrilla group, the government expects fewer statements, fewer words, and more actions, such as the release of all those kidnapped by the group and an end to terrorism. “The president (Juan Manuel Santos) has said that if the guerrilla group performs these peaceful actions, he is more than willing to build scenarios of peace, forgiveness, and reconciliation in our country, meaning that he is expecting fewer statements, fewer words from the guerrilla group, and more peaceful actions,” Garzón specified in a conversation with Bogotá radio stations. The vice president recalled that “the government has repeatedly demanded that the FARC release all those kidnapped, without conditions of any kind, that they end the practice of kidnapping and terrorism, that they end the use of antipersonnel mines, and that they free the children they have recruited by force.” Garzón spoke prior to the promised release by the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) of three military personnel and two politicians in the group’s power, who are expected to return to their homes in the second week of February, according to the rebel group. “We hope that the FARC will free those five people this week, as they’ve promised since 8 December, and for which the government has provided all facilities,” the vice president indicated in that regard. On 6 February, the Anncol news agency, which customarily publishes FARC information, called on Santos to “take advantage” of the moment of the release to start “a dialogue that might enable a political solution of the conflict.” The request was made two days after the president reiterated his offer to the insurgents to seek a negotiated end to Colombia’s half-century of war.
MIAMI — USS Nicholas and Coast Guard participating in multi-national anti-illicit trafficking effort Operation Martillo seized in the Pacific coast of Central America 275 pounds of marijuana and 500 pounds of cocaine worth more than US$6 million. The operation intends to disrupt organized crime operations by limiting their ability to use Central America as a transit zone. Crewmembers of the USS Nicholas and a U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Detachment Team seized the narcotics June 19 after a U.S. Navy aircraft spotted a speedboat. The drug traffickers then began to jettison the contraband overboard. An embarked SH-60 helicopter was launched with a gunner on board to intercept the speedboat and mark the debris field with a smoke float. In an attempt to get the vessel to stop, the gunner fired warning shots across the bow and aft of the speedboat. When the vessel did not stop, the gunner fired disabling rounds, bringing the speedboat to a stop. The USS Nicholas then launched a rigid-hull inflatable boat with Coast Guardsmen and seized the speedboat. “This interdiction is a clear example of our commitment to produce a safer and more secure region where criminal organizations no longer wield the power to destabilize governments,” said Rear Adm. Sinclair Harris, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet (COMUSNAVSO/C4F). “These organizations threaten national and regional security and public safety, so we need to prevent the entry and spread of illicit drugs, violence, and transnational threats to countries throughout the region and to the United States.” “More than 80% of the narcotics entering Central America and largely transiting through Mexico on their way to U.S. markets enter via maritime littoral routes, with the main conveyance being ‘go-fast’ boats,” said Harris. “By teaming up with our partner nations and allied forces to scrutinize the littorals, we will deny transnational organized crime networks these routes.” Operation Martillo (Spanish for ‘hammer’) is a partner nation effort targeting illicit trafficking routes in coastal waters along the Central American isthmus. This joint service, interagency, and multinational operation is being led by Joint Interagency Task Force-South, a National Task Force charged with detecting, monitoring, and supporting the interdiction of illicit trafficking in a 42-million-square-mile area primarily in the U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) area of operations. By Dialogo July 05, 2012
The Olympic-style military competition tests the skills that the Special Forces from each competing Army practice daily in the fight against terrorist groups and transnational criminal organizations. The country teams met the challenges of “the bothersome climate, the nature of the infrastructure, and the obstacle course, which is one of the most difficult ones to negotiate in a competition,” Lieutenant Colonel Martínez said. Bolstering regional cooperation “The winning team does not win a cash prize or anything like that. It goes beyond a purely monetary award. The trophy that the champions receive represents the efforts they made during the week in a competition that perfects their abilities to fight terrorism.” The Special Forces competition, which features six service members and an alternate from each participating military in each team, is designed to increase regional and multinational cooperation, mutual trust, improved training, readiness, and interoperability among the region’s Special Forces. “They are not simply teams for a competition, but operational units that have selected the competitors for this event from amongst their personnel,” said Lieutenant Colonel Ángel Martínez, exercise and training director for SOCSOUTH. It was Colombia’s seventh victory in the event, which was sponsored by the United States Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) and executed by the U.S. Special Operations Command South (SOCSOUTH). The country’s team had won four straight championships from 2005-2008. This year, it defeated 18 teams from the Americas and Europe during the competition at the headquarters for the Brigadier General Pablo Nuila Hub of the Kaibil Special Forces Brigade in the northern municipality of Poptún, which is 377 kilometers north of Guatemala City. Jacobo De León Argueta, commanding officer for the Pablo Nuila Hub of the Kaibil Special Forces Brigade, expressed his satisfaction at having organized this activity “at the home of the Kaibiles in Guatemala, one of the more important elite forces in Latin America.” Peru is scheduled to host the event in 2016, though no date has been determined. “This event has brought together teams of elite army units from the Americas. It has been physically and technically demanding.” “The goal of this competition is for each team to demonstrate their abilities in special operations and tactical operations, as well as the techniques and procedures to be followed in the war on terror,” the Guatemalan Army reported. By Dialogo July 28, 2015 My congratulations to the Guatemalan Army, to the first three places, and particularly to the rest of the teams that participated. It was important to compete in this event because what was shared, learned and what each country contributed to the event was very significant. Peace be with all of you in the Latin American and United States Military Forces.Each one of the young military members who participated has improved his/her level of military service and his/her character and convictions.Respectfully. I would like this competition to be held in southern Chile, too. I assure you that the first four places would change completely. Infantry 1st Lieutenant Gener Pelicó, who led Guatemala’s team, was “impressed by the competitors’ skill levels, above all, because they tested themselves physically, technically, and mentally.” The events “bring together the countries of the Americas and forges new, friendly relations,” said Haiti SWAT team leader Gordon Davis, whose team participated for the first time. Since 1975, more than 1,000 service members have graduated from the eight-week Kaibil International training course. Kaibil Commandos have served in United Nations peacekeeping missions in Liberia, Congo, Haiti, Nepal and the Ivory Coast. The unit’s name comes from Kaibil Balam, a respected prince and warrior of the Guatemalan ethnic group, Mam. A competitive field “We are proud to be part of this force, because discipline and honor are vital to defending this nation from any terrorist threat,” Kaibil Captain Oscar Alonzo said. “Through this activity, we have shown the other nations how experienced we are in tactics and special forces operations.” Colombia recently earned its third straight Fuerzas Comando title, winning the annual military special operations skills competition testing endurance, ability, marksmanship, and aquatic skills held this year in Guatemala from July 15-23. The United States placed second overall, while El Salvador, Guatemala, and Chile rounded out the top five. Honduras won the Sniper Team category, with Jamaica placing first in the Assault Team event. Argentina, Belize, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Guyana, Panama, Peru, Paraguay, Uruguay, Mexico, Haiti, and Spain also competed in the searing heat that averaged 38 degrees Celsius with high humidity. “This experience has left a good taste in my mouth. Competing with service members from the Southern Hemisphere is very important.” Guatemala, which finished first in the Combined Team/Physical Fitness category, had officers from the National Army who received training used by the Kaibiles — a special operations force that conducts counter-terrorism and intelligence gathering missions.
By Dialogo August 17, 2015 The result of the VRAEM with regard to the soldiers, nothing is true for studies the youth may want to do in the future, it’s only given to the sons of colonels and other high ranking officials. What is the future of the others who serve the country for years, wanting to be representatives. When they have no influence I do agree that the battalion should clean up the Tiscapa lagoonbecause it surely has been dirtyand can contribute to the environment. “If the Armed Forces bolster the country’s fight against narco-terrorist organizations and the Peruvian government continues along the good path it has chosen, these people are going to see progress,” Col. Goicochea concluded. “In addition to becoming trainers in their own communities, the young Soldiers, will become leaders so that more youth may follow in their footsteps,” Col. Goicochea added. After the Armed Forces trains the young indigenous Soldiers for two months in marksmanship, physical fitness, communications, and survival skills, joint operations will be held in coordination with the Peruvian Navy, Air Force, and National Police. On July 16, Peruvian Defense Minister Jakke Valakivi officially opened the Army post, where Troops “will conduct joint operations for the welfare of the area’s population and will fight narco-terrorism,” he said. Approximately 80 Soldiers from the community of Matshiguengas, a major indigenous group that’s spread over a wide area in the departments of Ayacucho, Cusco, and Madre de Dios, are part of the country’s first military contingent for native communities in emergency zones such as the VRAEM. The Military has made great progress in its battle against the Shining Path guerrilla group, which operates in the VRAEM. But the Peruvian Military’s long-term goal is to recruit and train more Soldiers from native communities to serve in the VRAEM in order to help in the continuing battle against drug activity there, according to retired Peruvian Army Colonel José Goicochea Cacho. The Peruvian Army’s first group of indigenous Troops comprises a new command post in the Apurímac, Ene, and Mantaro Rivers Valley (VRAEM), where the Armed Forces are combating drug-trafficking groups and other threats. Humanitarian assistance Security forces have also made strides in reducing the level of illegal coca cultivation in the VRAEM. Coca crops in the Andean country have declined from 49,800 hectares in 2013 to 42,900 hectares in 2014, according to a United Nations monitoring report. As a consequence of the Military’s efforts in the VRAEM, “the people (in the region) are going to see progress,” Col. Goicochea said. Security forces have dismantled the Shining Path’s Southern Column in the VRAEM; all that remains is the Northern Column, led by brothers José and Raúl Quispe Palomino, Vice Minister of Defense Iván Vega has told journalists. The Armed Forces utilize a strong humanitarian component while providing security in the VRAEM; Military personnel stationed at the Peruvian Naval Base at the Port of Ocopa support free medical appointments, school materials, and social support to 90 children through the Santa Teresita Shelter. The Military also provides the youngsters with courses in crafts and graphic arts, in addition to opportunities to participate in civil-military activities to promote patriotism. Serving in the Army not only gives indigenous Soldiers the chance to provide security in the VRAEM, but will also provide them subsequent opportunities. Once they have completed at least one year of Military service, these Troops will have the opportunity to obtain technical certifications to protect the country’s environment and biodiversity. Future opportunities In early August, the Military and police captured two important Shining Path leaders, Alexander Alarcón Soto, aka “Renán,” and Dionicio Ramos, aka “Yuri.” The new post is part of the Peruvian Army’s renewed commitment to bolstering its efforts to dismantle criminal drug-trafficking structures in the VRAEM, Col. Goicochea said. The Troops in the country’s first military contingent for native communities will also benefit from several programs offered by the Peruvian government, such as Beca 18, which provides technical or professional academic training at recognized universities and colleges to young people and registration in the nation’s Comprehensive Health System (SIS). Consequently, these Soldiers will be able to “combat narco-terrorism, fight illegal logging, prevent river pollution, and preserve biodiversity in the region,” Defense Minister Valakivi said. “Likewise, they will be able to create a self-defense committee under the supervision of personnel from the Valle Esmeralda Base.”
By Claudia Sánchez-Bustamante/Diálogo March 13, 2017 From March 7-9, the Inter-American Defense College (IADC) and Chile’s National Academy of Political Science and Strategic Studies (ANEPE), hosted the 2017 seminar on “Peace and Security from a Gender Perspective: From Policy to Strategy” at Fort Lesley J. McNair, in Washington, D.C. The initiative, started in 2016, is an effort to promote United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, on Women, Peace, and Security. This year’s event brought together participants from the defense, human rights, public security, and women’s issues arenas in partner nations including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Panama, Trinidad and Tobago, the United States, and Uruguay to discuss topics of gender integration in developing security, an international framework for the protection of human rights, and the application of a gendered human security perspective on emergencies and humanitarian assistance, among others. U.S. Navy Admiral Kurt Tidd, commander of U.S. Southern Command, kicked off the event highlighting the importance of gender integration in strategy and policy. “Now, more than ever, the issue of effective gender integration is connected to the present and future capabilities of our armed forces and national security institutions,” said Adm. Tidd, from his perspective as an operational combatant commander. “Right now, the men and women of our security forces are engaged in a wide spectrum of missions, across a wide range of conditions, all over the world,” he stated. “The operations they’re serving in are a far cry from the types of missions most of us in uniform served in –or even contemplated– at the beginning of our careers.” Adm. Tidd highlighted the ever-changing conditions of the armed forces today. “Even peacekeeping has changed,” he pointed out. “Today, two-thirds of all peacekeepers are serving in active conflict zones. Peacekeepers from our hemisphere are supporting UN missions on four different continents: they’re deployed to Kashmir, Cyprus, Lebanon, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Cote D’Ivoire, the Sinai, Mali, and Haiti. At the same time, U.S troops are involved around the world in operations as diverse as counter terrorism missions in Afghanistan, supporting coalition operations in Syria and Iraq, and building partner capacity right here in our own hemisphere,” he reflected. “And no matter where our men and women are serving, the security environment they face is unlike any we’ve seen before,” he added. “It’s more unpredictable, far more dangerous, and extraordinarily complex.” The SOUTHCOM commander listed specific examples to illustrate today’s realities. “New technologies are fielded faster than ever before –by our forces, and by those who seek to do us harm. Technologies are used in ways that were unthinkable a few years ago. Violent state actors, non-state actors, non-state Islamist extremists like ISIS and criminal networks now operate across geographic boundaries and domains. The information landscape is more crowded and competitive than ever before. We’ve seen new social media platforms extend the reach, scale, and speech in which both real and fake news move… This new reality directly influences the operational environment and collapses the decision space of our civilian leaders. Tactics and techniques continue changing in ways that pose enormous ethical and cultural challenges, from the use of female and child suicide bombers, to entire families traveling to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS. The battle field is literally moving under our feet.” Adm. Tidd posed important questions on how to tackle this change. “Keeping pace with this change involves asking ourselves how our forces need to adapt, and how our cultures and institutions need to change to support our forces,” he said. “This means evolving the way we unleash the full talent, initiative, and potential of our men and women. This means evolving how we cultivate capable, adaptable, and creative leaders who can thrive in this challenging world of change and complexity,” he continued. “This is why effective gender integration, and the integration of gender perspectives into military operations, is an absolute imperative for each of our armed forces and security institutions. If we are to successfully adapt to meet the demands of the 21st century security environment.” The SOUTHCOM commander stressed the importance of adapting quickly in order to achieving operational effectiveness. “It’s how we attain and maintain our respective competitive advantages,” he said. “Integrating women and gender perspectives into military operations is part of that adaptation.” For example, Adm. Tidd listed UN studies that have shown that female peacekeepers improve the understanding of the operational environment, especially as it relates to the issues affecting women and children in conflict and post-conflict societies. “As we’ve seen in Bosnia, Cambodia, El Salvador, Namibia, and South Africa, the presence of female peacekeepers in our formations increases access to and support for local women affected by conflict, improving the likelihood of attaining a lasting peace,” he said. “In our own military, we saw how the integration of female cultural support teams (CST) into U.S. Special Operations Forces units made for a fundamentally stronger, more capable, and flexible fighting force.” According to Adm. Tidd, “after action reports revealed those CST were highly effective at de-escalating tense situations. They were uniquely placed to protect women and children when raids turned deadly, enhancing the legitimacy of U.S. and coalition forces. Any by interacting with a portion of the population that was previously off limits to U.S. troops, they were able to gather critical information and intelligence about weapons caches and insurgent hiding places, improving force protection of U.S. and coalition troops and the situational awareness of our commanders in the field.” Adm. Tidd urged the conferees to look beyond the simple question of how to integrate women into military operations. In order to begin the conversation of gender integration, the Admiral remarked the importance of remembering the fundamental difference between the mere inclusion of women as participants in the nations’ militaries, and the recognition of women as equals. “The first is window dressing, meeting a quota, and advancing an agenda,” he said. “The second is transformative for our forces and our institutions.” He was poignant in that it is not about looking for the right number of women, but rather looking for the “best teammates –those men and women with the irresistible drive to contribute to mission success, who have the right team ethos and who possess a diverse way of looking at problems and coming up with unexpected, creative solutions” to join in the conversation, the decision making process, and the ranks of the militaries and security structures working toward regional peace and stability. Effective gender integration, he said, is really part of a larger question: How do we attract, develop, and retain the best people, with the right skillsets, to meet the ever accelerating demands of military operations in the 21st century? To answer that, Adm. Tidd asked the audience to think about the real-world impact of the strategies they develop, and what those mean for training and human capital development pipelines. “I can only speak from my U.S. perspective, but the issue of standards tends to dominate any discussion of gender integration,” he said. “In the U.S., we’ve had a lot of talk about whether women can meet the physical standards required for combat. In my opinion, there should be no compromises in the name of equality and opportunity,” he stated. “It undermines what we’re trying to do, and reinforces the stereotypes we’re fighting against.” Adm. Tidd assured the audience that all the women he has worked with in the course of his career reject the idea of double standards. “They want to receive the same treatment, and have the same opportunities as their male team members. They want to be held to one standard, a mission standard, not a gender standard,” he said. “We all recognize that the readiness of our forces and the security of our nations depend on the maintenance of tough standards that reflect the mission, not the gender,” he added. “Female military professionals, exactly like their male counterparts, want to be judged on the basis of their grit, their determination, and tenacity–the things that matter most. The things we prize in all our team members.” Adm. Tidd brought to light that the U.S. Marine Corps has examined the performance gap between men and women on combat fitness tests. The results showed that the primary obstacle for the majority of women was upper body strength. However, he also cited previous studies which documented that women and men who are strength trained can increase their performance on combat-related tasks. “The fact that some female marines could complete the most challenging upper body strength tests suggests those barriers are neither inherent nor biological,” he highlighted. “So when it comes to standards, we must think in terms of gender-blind standards… focus on specific out comes, not on specific genders,” he added. “Our U.S. military is still working through this,” he added. “We haven’t figured it all out yet either.” But he was clear on that “whatever it involves, it needs to include opportunities for all our men and women to train for the jobs they aspire towards.” In addition to discussing the importance of training men and women physically, Adm. Tidd appended that it is also paramount to consider their mental and emotional training as well. “Excelling in the complex 21st century security environment is not simply a matter of physical strength. It’s about the ideas we generate, the creativity we cultivate, and the problems we solve,” he underscored. “Ultimately, it’s about the effective teams we build.” Adm. Tidd was clear on that “we need more comprehensive measurements of intellectual, professional, and character attributes,” he said. “We need to develop women and men who excel in complexity, anticipate change, recognize opportunity, and adapt to meet new challenges. The complex environments our forces face demand critical thinking, flexibility, and creativity. Our mission success depends on it,” he highlighted. “Ultimately, gender integration has nothing to do with leveling the playing field. It’s about making sure we put our nest possible team on that playing field,” he remarked. But the Admiral also called on “strategic patience” to continue to develop and achieve more and better gender integration. “The small numbers of women in some of our ranks–especially in the combat arms–doesn’t mean this isn’t worth pursuing. Developing the force we need takes time. It’s not going to happen overnight …Today’s dialogue, and others like it, will help us develop the necessary strategies and policies, adapt our doctrines, revise our training guidance, and retool our learning curriculums.” Adm. Tidd ended his speech with three poignant examples to illustrate gender integration and remind the audience that these are “much harder to see, or measure, or quantify, but are nevertheless incredibly important to the ultimate success of effective gender integration”: “Imagine what a young Haitian girl thought when she saw female peacekeepers from Uruguay, Peru, and Brazil patrolling the streets of Port-au-Prince, providing security, and delivering medical care to Haitian citizens and helping the country recover from the devastating earthquake. Imagine what a young Afghan girl thought when she saw our cultural support teams taking fire and saving lives, not just American soldiers, but Afghan civilians. Imagine what a young American school girl thought when she heard that three women graduated from the U.S. Army’s notoriously tough ranger school–achieving a level of leadership training that few men will ever accomplish. Or what she thought when she heard that for the first time, a fully qualified woman has been selected to serve in our ranger regiment, an elite unit that conducts some of the most challenging and precise offensive operations undertaken by the U.S. military.” “The women serving in our forces today are incredibly powerful sources of inspiration for the future,” he stated. “Because those young Haitian, Afghan, and American girls can see it, they know that if they prepare effectively, they can be it. Like the men they serve beside, the women serving in our forces today are pioneers of a new generation of military professionals – the women serving in our forces today aren’t a milestone. They’re a motivation–an inspiration–for all of us,” he concluded.
Salaries for Florida lawyers are on the rise Salaries for Florida lawyers are on the rise Use of technology continues to grow Mark D. Killian Managing Editor The typical Florida lawyer is male, 45 years old, with 16 years of experience. He works in a firm with four other lawyers, two legal assistants and two legal secretaries, spends 51 hours a week in the office (only 30 of which are billable), and earned $85,000 in 2001.Those are among the findings of The Florida Bar’s 2002 Economics and Law Office Management Survey, which also found salaries are up for Florida lawyers, and they are making greater use of technology in their practices.The average income for Florida attorneys rose by $3,000 over the past two years, while use of the Internet also saw a rise since the Bar’s last membership survey, with more than 95 of respondents reporting they’d been on-line during the last three months, up from just 30 percent six short years ago.Florida lawyers in private practice also reported spending an average 51 hours each week in the office and billing for 30 of those hours — numbers identical to those reported two years ago.The median 2001 income for Bar members was $85,000, up from $82,000 per year reported two years ago, and from $75,000 in 1998.Complete survey results may be obtained from the Bar’s Research, Planning and Evaluation Department by sending in the coupon at the end of this article.The poll is taken every other year to keep lawyers informed on what their colleagues are doing in various areas of law office management.This year’s survey was completed by 665 lawyers from a sample of 2,740. The 24-percent response rate gives a 3.5-percent margin of error, according to Bar Senior Research and Evaluation Analyst Mike Garcia.The survey found 77 percent of Florida lawyers are in private practice, while 16 percent are government lawyers or judges. The remainder work as corporate counsel, for legal aid offices or for other employers. Sixty-five percent of respondents report working in a firm or other legal setting with five or fewer lawyers, while 13 percent say they work with 26 or more attorneys. Salaries and Benefits Overall, 2002 income reported in the survey ranged from zero to $4 million.Associates fresh out of law school averaged $40,000 in 2002 — up $5,000 from the 2000 survey — while new law grads with some experience made $42,500. The median for lawyers with fewer than three years of experience was $50,000, compared with $55,000 for those in practice three to five years, and $71,000 for those with six to eight years’ experience.Associates with more than eight years’ experience had a median income of $90,000, up $5,000 from two years ago.The survey found a partner or shareholder typically made $125,000, the same as two years ago.Respondents reported 50 percent of their offices gross receipts in 2001 went to pay the lawyers in the office, while 20 percent went to support staff salaries, and the remaining 30 percent paid for all the other firm expenses.The survey found 63 percent of Florida firms employ legal assistants/paralegals. The typical newly hired legal assistant/paralegal without experience made $26,000 last year. Current legal assistants/paralegals with less than five years experience made $30,000, while those with five to 10 years experience made $35,000, and those on the job for more than 10 years pulled in $40,000.The average salary for newly hired legal secretaries without experience was $25,000, compared with $28,000 for those with less than five years experience, $33,000 for those with more than five years of experience, and $38,0000 for those current employees with 10 years on the job.For other law office employees, the survey found the following typical pay scales:• Full-time office manager: $50,000.• Secretary/office manager: $32,000.• Bookkeeper (full time): $36,000.• Bookkeeper (part time): $20,000.• Marketing director: $50,000.• Records manager: $33,000.• Law clerk: $26,000. Technology The survey also found the use of technology continues to grow, and that 95 percent of Bar members had used the Internet in the past three months, compared to 84 percent from two years ago, 73 percent four years ago, and up from just 30 percent who answered the same question six years ago.The poll found 99 percent of Florida firms and legal offices have Internet access, up from 85 percent two years ago and 76 percent in 1998.Of those respondents who use the Internet, 83 percent say they use it at least once a day, compared with two years ago when 56 percent said they accessed the net at least once per day. Only 38 percent reported doing the same in 1998.Forty-two percent of respondents this year said their main reason for using the Internet is to send and receive e-mail, followed by 35 percent whose main reason entails research and legal education, followed by 19 percent who said personal education/research, three percent for entertainment, and less than one percent for shopping.Sixty-one percent of respondents said they have visited the Bar’s home page (www.FLABAR.org), with 14 percent saying they visited the site more than 10 times last year. Of those who have visited the Bar’s Web page, 85 percent said they did not have any problems finding what they were looking for.When asked if the Bar were to create an Internet-based, customizable Web portal that would allow members to obtain various legal resources, links, search engines, as well as personalized news and information, 40 percent said they would use it, with another 43 percent indicating they “possibly” would use it. Of those who said they would or might use the Bar portal, 69 percent said they would “possibly” (51 percent), “very likely” (12 percent), or “almost certainly” (6 percent) make the portal their main PC desktop for daily information needs.In order to further accelerate the Bar’s current pace of expanding Web service features, 22 percent of respondents said they would approve of a minimal dues increase, 8 percent would be willing to pay a nominal access fee, while 70 percent would rather wait for new functions to arrive on a gradual basis. Hiring and Demographics According to the survey, 74 percent of respondents said their firms did not hire any recently admitted lawyers in 2001, and 75 percent of private firms don’t plan on hiring any beginning lawyers in 2002.The survey showed that women make up 29 percent of the Bar’s membership, up from 27 percent in 2000 and 26 percent in 1998 and up 17 percentage points since the economic survey was initiated in 1984. African-Americans still make up 2 percent of the Bar, the same percentage as 10 years ago, and Hispanic lawyers account for 7 percent of the Bar, up 1 percent from two years ago.More than one-third (35 percent) of all male lawyers are either managing partners or partner/shareholders, while 17 percent of women lawyers currently hold those titles, according to the survey. Also, 28 percent of women lawyers are employed in a government practice position, compared to 10 percent of male lawyers. Billable Hours The poll showed 33 percent of Bar members billed fewer than 1,600 hours in 2001. Seven percent billed between 1,601 and 1,800 hours, 9 percent billed from 1,801 to 2,000 hours, and 12 percent said they billed more than 2,000 hours. A little more than one-third of all respondents (38 percent) said they do not maintain billable hours. July 1, 2002 Managing Editor Regular News
Thompson named Florida Bar Foundation president Associate Editor William L. Thompson, Jr., a Jacksonville attorney focusing on real estate and corporate law, will bring investment savvy and a passion for providing equal access to justice as the new president of The Florida Bar Foundation.“I believe that all lawyers have a duty to allow the economically disadvantaged to benefit from the rule of law in the justice system that has been so important to all of us,” Thompson said.The legal needs of the poor far exceed the resources, even though lawyers generously give of their time and dollars to providing legal services to Floridians who cannot afford to hire their own lawyers.Thompson encourages lawyers — and nonlawyers, for that matter — to volunteer with legal aid offices in their communities and to make contributions to The Florida Bar Endowment Trust.Helping everyone have access to the justice system, Thompson said, “is more than a worthy cause. It is important for our society and something lawyers have a direct relationship to, so yes, we are very interested in giving lawyers an opportunity to provide assistance.”Asked if the Foundation’s investments have suffered significantly from the plunging stock market, Thompson said: “No, we’re not into the kinds of investments that are the ones taking the hit. We’re much more conservative. Our returns are not what we would like, but we have not been devastated by the market.”Principal support for The Florida Bar Foundation’s charitable activities has traditionally come from the IOTA program implemented by the Florida Supreme Court in 1981. The constitutionality of IOTA funds is currently pending before the United States Supreme Court.In June the Court accepted cert in the Washington State IOLTA case ( Washington Legal Foundation v. Legal Foundation of Washington, No. 01-1325). The San Francisco-based U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled last November that the state of Washington’s IOLTA program does not violate the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, reasoning that while the plaintiffs “have the right to control the accrued interest generated in theory, as a practical matter, that right will never come to fruition on its own because without IOLTA there is no interest.”That decision is at odds with a similar case decided in October 2001 by a three-judge panel of the New Orleans-based U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals that found the Texas IOLTA program’s use of pooled interest from lawyers’ trust accounts amounts to an unconstitutional taking without just compensation, in violation of the Fifth Amendment. (WLF v. Texas Equal Access to Justice Foundation ).In that case the majority said, “In reality, the linchpin for this case has already been inserted by the Supreme Court: Interest income generated by funds held in IOLTA accounts is the ‘private property’ of the owner of the principal. And, because the state has permanently appropriated [the appellant’s] interest income against his will, instead of merely regulating its use, there is a per se taking.” Petition for en banc review of the Texas case was denied by the Fifth Circuit May 31, and lawyers for the Texas agency plan to file a petition for writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court, which may consolidate both cases, according to the ABA.“Since we don’t know what the Supreme Court will say, we can’t predict what our response will be,” Thompson said. “But I can tell you it’s not going to leave the poor high and dry in the state of Florida.”How uplifting he said it was that the Florida Legislature funded former Bar President Terry Russell’s pet project: the Civil Legal Justice Act, $2 million for a pilot program to provide civil legal assistance in the following judicial circuits: First, Fourth, Ninth, 12th, 13th, 17th, and 20th.“It was more than encouraging. The legislature should be given a great deal of credit for recognizing the vast needs in that area,” Thompson said. “We were elated. We are working very hard to use those funds as good stewards.”As a former secretary and director of the Foundation, Thompson served as a member of the Foundation’s Executive Committee, Administration of Justice IOTA Grant Committee, Development Committee, Budget and Finance Committee, and the IOTA Operations Committee. His one-year term as president began July 1.Currently practicing in Orange Park, Thompson is a graduate of Duke University and served on the Editorial Board of the Duke Law Journal in 1979, and wrote “Registration of Stock Spin-offs Under the Securities Act of 1933,” in that publication (Vol. 1980, No. 5).Thompson also initiated and coauthored the “Florida Private Placement Exemption in Florida Securities and Investor Protection Act.”He clerked for Judge Gerald B. Tjoflat of the United States Court of Appeals, Fifth (now 11th) Circuit.The Florida Bar Foundation was organized in 1956 to foster law-related public service programs on behalf of Florida’s legal profession.For more information about the Foundation, call Lisa Bright at (407) 843-0045, extension 105, or visit the Foundation’s Web site at www.flabarfndn.org. August 15, 2002 Jan Pudlow Associate Editor Regular News Thompson named Florida Bar Foundation president
The Equal Opportunities Law Section has come up with a plan to increase its membership and bring it into conformance with Bar rules.Program Evaluation Committee Chair Richard Tanner told the Bar Board of Governors in May the section has had difficulty meeting membership requirements. Bar policies require sections to have a membership of at least 1 percent of Bar membership. PEC has been examining the Bar’s newest section under a policy that has new sections reviewed after their first three years.“The problem is this group has not been able to meet the membership requirements we set several years ago,” Tanner said, noting the board had granted the section an extension to address the problem. “I can report happily they are working very, very hard to come up with a solution to be in compliance with the rule.“I think they have a core group that justifies our considered extension for time for them to address this.”Another option would be for the group to lose its section status and become a Bar committee.According to information presented to the board, the section is implementing a personal solicitation campaign and working through minority and specialty bar associations to recruit new members. It is also planning a one-day retreat this summer to focus on membership recruitment and has revised its mission statement to broaden the section’s appeal.The section has among its goals the education and support of young minority lawyers and law students, including helping them network with law firms and corporations, and educating the Florida legal community about the benefits of diversity.“We’ve been duly impressed with the efforts they’ve put into rectifying their problems,” Tanner said. For more information about the section, contact Yvonne Sherron at (850) 561-5620. Equal Opportunities Law Section seeks more members July 1, 2003 Regular News Equal Opportunities Law Section seeks more members
Sign up for our COVID-19 newsletter to stay up-to-date on the latest coronavirus news throughout New York A former personal care assistant at an assisted living facility in Port Washington has been accused of trying to steal more than $10,000 from an 88-year-old woman in her care.Stephanie Benodin was charged Wednesday with criminal possession of a forged instrument and attempted grand larceny from a resident of Tuttle Center, a part of The Amsterdam at Harborside.Prosecutors from the New York State attorney general’s office said the 25-year-old suspect waited until the victim was admitted to North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset to deposit a forged check that Benodin allegedly stole from the victim’s home.The check was made out to Benodin’s mother and was deposited at a Capital One Bank branch in Queens Village into Benodin’s mother’s account, authorities said.Port Washington village police began the investigation after the victim’s daughter uncovered the alleged theft.Bail for Benodin was set at $10,000. She is due back in court Friday and faces up to seven years in prison.