Tampa’s Rice to lead the Young Lawyers Division April 30, 2000 Associate Editor Regular News Tampa’s Rice to lead the Young Lawyers Division Mark D. Killian Associate Editor Helping young lawyers strike a balance between work and home and strengthening the division’s signature Practicing with Professionalism program will be the focus of Liz Rice’s administration when she assumes leadership of the Young Lawyers Division.Tampa’s Rice, who becomes only the second women to lead the YLD, defeated Adam Kohl of Jacksonville at the young lawyers’ January meeting in Ponte Vedra. She will be sworn-in as president-elect in June at the Bar’s Annual Meeting in Boca Raton and will serve as YLD president in 2001.YLD President Greg Coleman said Rice is the “perfect choice” to lead the YLD and noted she has paid her dues over the past five years.“Liz has been active in our modernization of the Practicing with Professionalism program, improving our relations with our statewide affiliates and increasing the division’s sensitivity toward gender and diversity issues,” Coleman said. “Liz is extremely intelligent, hardworking and approachable — her leadership will be noticed.”“There is no one on the board that has done more and been as productive and more of an organized contributor than Liz,” said Stuart Ratzan, the YLD’s current president-elect. “She is going to be a dedicated and conscience leader of the Young Lawyers Division.”Rice, who concentrates her practice in commercial litigation and bankruptcy with Stearns Weaver Miller Weissler Alhadeff & Sitterson, said the division needs to turn some of its attention to quality of life issues.“We have a lot more lawyers wanting to take on flex time schedules and work on a contract basis, and I want to see if there is anything that our division can do as far as support for people who want to pursue that type of a career path,” said Rice, 36, who chaired the Hillsborough County Bar’s Future Trends in the Legal Profession panel.“People are wanting to have quality in their lives, spend more time with their families and have interests outside of their lives as lawyers.”Rice said recent law school graduates interviewed by her future trends committee indicated “they are not driven by the dollar and don’t want to do the 2000-hour billable year anymore.” Rice said she also is distressed that many of her peers from law school are leaving the profession for more flexible careers.Rice wants the YLD to develop a support system for people who want to approach their employers about setting up a nontraditional work schedule. She said the YLD needs to develop a database of information about those who are now using flex schedules, how they work, and if they are succeeding.“I think a lot of employers think when you approach them with [flexible schedules] they are reluctant to do it because they think everybody will want to do this,” Rice said. “Statistically, which is not the case.” ProfessionalismRice also wants to improve the division’s CLE programs, with a particular emphasis on the mandatory Practicing with Professionalism seminar.The Supreme Court requires new Bar members to attend Practicing with Professionalism, which replaced the Bridge-the-Gap seminar, and is designed to help ease the transition from law school to the practice of law. It features one day of practical skills presentations and one day of interactive discussions concerning issues of ethics and professionalism.Rice, who now co-chairs the YLD’s Practice with Professionalism Committee and has helped put the seminar on in the Tampa area for the past five years, said the division will put forth renewed effort to attracting quality speakers and assembling outstanding materials for the participants.“We really have an obligation to our constituents to make that the best seminar possible,” Rice said. Bar Work Rice became involved in Bar work after she graduated from the University of Florida law school in 1989 and was hired by Hill, Ward & Henderson. She said former Bar President Ben Hill instilled in her the importance of providing service to the community and profession. And that commitment also is honored by her present firm, which she has been with since 1994.“I appreciate Stearns Weaver Miller for its support of my Bar work, which requires a substantial commitment of time,” Rice said. “The firm understands the importance of civic and professional involvement.”Rice was recently honored at an awards banquet for the first 40-Under-40 Rising Stars presented by The Business Journal Serving Greater Tampa Bay and Junior Achievement of West Central Florida. The award was presented to Rice for her business, civic and personal contributions toward making the Tampa Bay area a better place to live.Rice also is a member of The Florida Bar Business Law Section’s Bankruptcy/UCC Subcommittee and a member of the YLD Executive Committee. Active in the YLD since 1995, Rice also currently chairs Local Affiliate Outreach Committees and serves as liaison to the ABA’s YLD. In Tampa, Rice serves as an ex officio member of the Hillsborough County Bar’s Young Lawyers Division. In recognition of her contributions to the local and state Bar, she received the 1997-98 Most Outstanding Young Lawyer Award from the association’s YLD. Finding Her Place Rice came to the law almost accidentally. She was engaged to her now husband, Edwin G. Rice, when she graduated from UF with an undergraduate degree in geology in 1986 and Edwin, who was enrolled in the UF law school, encouraged Liz to pursue a law degree so they could be together for the next three years.She did, but still did not plan on practicing until she became enamored with law during a summer internship at Hill, Ward and Henderson.That, however, does not mean she has lost her love for things geologic.“I love to take trips where we get to see interesting geological facets,” Rice said, noting a recent ABA event provided her an opportunity to take in the Columbia Plateau in the Pacific Northwest. Unfortunately, Rice said, Florida has very little in the way of fascinating geological features.Rice and her husband have two girls, Alex, 2½, and Aaron 9 months.