Schifino Becomes The Florida Bar's 68th President
Tampa attorney William J. Schifino, Jr. was sworn in as the 68th president of The Florida Bar at its Annual Convention on June 15 to 18 in Orlando.
The swearing-in took place at the General Assembly on Friday, June 17. Miami attorney Michael J. Higer was sworn in as president-elect. Higer will become Bar president in June 2017.
Schifino is managing partner in the Tampa office of Burr & Forman LLP and is a Board Certified specialist in business litigation. He focuses on litigation and trial practice, including securities litigation and arbitration, professional malpractice litigation, employment litigation and intellectual property litigation. He also is on the firm’s Executive Committee.
One of Schifino’s major goals as Bar president is to consider recommendations from the Vision 2016 Commission, which has been studying four general areas that will impact the future practice of law in Florida: technology, legal education, bar admissions and access to legal services. “We have to implement and take action on all of these issues coming out of Vision 2016,” Schifino said. “Whether we’re going to recommend them to the membership or to the court, I’m not judging. But we have to analyze, debate, and take action — one way or another.”
Schifino also vows to work on an issue that grabbed his attention three years ago, as a member of The Florida Bar’s Board of Governors: Finding a way to connect lawyers who are unemployed or underemployed with citizens who don’t have access to legal services. That effort would dovetail with the work of the Vision 2016 Commission as well as the Florida Commission on Access to Civil Justice, created by Supreme Court Chief Justice Jorge Labarga.
As Bar president, Schifino also expects to address issues that could affect the judiciary. They include proposed term limits for judges, which The Florida Bar opposes, and the annual challenges of promoting adequate funding for the courts and protecting the independence of the judicial branch.
Schifino also is concerned about diversity in the judiciary. “We will not lose sight of the need for diversity and inclusion in the profession. Our profession needs to lead the charge,” Schifino said. Schifino served on the diversity commission created by Eugene Pettis, when Pettis was Bar president for the 2013-14 term. Schifino earned his J.D. degree from the University of Florida College of Law and his B.A. from Tulane University. After law school, he worked for Taub & Williams, P.A., then helped establish Williams, Schifino, Mangione & Steady, P.A., where he was a founding shareholder, president and then managing director before the firm combined with Burr & Forman in 2012.
Schifino recently completed an eight-year term as a member and chairman of the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Judicial Nominating Commission.
Schifino is active in Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Greater Tampa and is director of the corporate board of the Boys & Girls Club of Tampa Bay, Inc. He is on the Board of Trustees for the University of Florida Levin College of Law. He also spent many years as a youth league softball coach. He and his wife, Paola, have two daughters and a son.
With more than 102,000 members, The Florida Bar is one of the largest unified bars in the nation. It is charged by the Florida Supreme Court with regulating the practice of law in the state as well as promoting the administration of justice.