Remarks Upon Receipt of the OCBA 2020 William Trickel, Jr. Professionalism Award
Diane Holmes, Esq.
Professionalism Committee // The Briefs // May 2020, Vol. 88 No. 4
I must first thank the Central Florida Association for Women Lawyers for nominating me for this tremendous honor. When Chief Judge Donald A. Myers, Jr., sent me a congratulatory email, he wrote, “You follow in the footsteps of some real professionalism giants in this community.” That could not be more true.
Having had the privilege to know William Trickel, Jr., or “Bill” as he asked to be called, I was truly humbled when I learned I am this year’s recipient of the award given in his name. I am honored to be held in the same esteem as the award’s prior recipients, so many of whom have guided and taught me so much over the years. I want to always be the best lawyer that I can be and have always sought to learn from and emulate those whom I consider epitomize what it is to be professional. When we discuss professionalism as it relates to the practice of law, the prior recipients of this award, by word and by deed, are the personification of professionalism.
My first job as a lawyer was as a staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society of the Orange County Bar Association, Inc. Among other work, I represented folks in family law matters, small claims cases, landlord-tenant disputes, consumer disputes, and in juvenile dependency cases. Also being involved in the early years of the Guardian ad Litem Program instilled in me a desire to excel in child advocacy. In hindsight, I see that it was a privilege to begin my career in that position because the success of the program was due to the support of local lawyers. All who were called on to help answered the call without hesitation.
I believe that each of us, as lawyers, can and do make a profound difference in our community, one person at a time. Our system of justice is the best there is, and we are the ones who can open the door for the folks that otherwise might not be served. Our pro bono work is essential. We do it because we can. We do it because we should. We do it because it is the right thing to do. Over the years, I have always been proud to say that I am a member of the Orange County Bar Association. Hands down, this is the best voluntary bar association anywhere.
The support and guidance that I received from Florida Lawyers Assistance, Inc. (“FLA”) was instrumental in helping me move forward successfully in my career. I believe that it is vitally important that folks know about the services FLA provides. When a lawyer or law student needs help with substance abuse, mental health, or other disorders which negatively affect their lives and careers, help is only a confidential call away. My work with this organization has been fulfilling beyond description.
Another important activity that I enjoy is to try and mentor young lawyers as I was mentored. Today’s life can be full of stress, and I strive to guide younger lawyers in how to succeed in practicing law with civility and competence while also prioritizing and honoring time with their families.
Family has always been important to me. My mother was instrumental in me becoming a lawyer, which is a story for another day. But what is most important is that she taught me, not by her words, but by her actions. While I want to follow suit, I can never achieve the immense patience and incredible kindness she has for everyone. Kindness is an important quality that will take us all very far in our lives.
Another important way to share what we learn with other lawyers, especially the young lawyers, is to establish groups and activities and invite them to join us. When my colleague a number of years ago suggested that we start a family law Inns of Court chapter, I was delighted to help.
It is a marvelous coincidence, at least in my view, when we consider this year’s award recipients, that we are all women. This is a new year in a new decade, and 2020 celebrates the 100th year of women’s suffrage. To receive this award with Judge Karen Jennemann and Keshara Cowans is particularly meaningful to me. As I reflect on my years of practice, I hope that by example I have been able to encourage others who come after me and those who are my peers. We are here to help each other do the very best we can do and be the very best we can be.
Diane Holmes, Esq., N. Diane Holmes, P.A. Family Law Group, is Florida Bar Board Certified in marital and family law and has practiced family law for more than thirty-five years. She is a founding member of the Central Florida Association for Women Lawyers and the Central Florida Family Law Inn. She has been a member of the OCBA since 1981.