West Palm Beach attorney Michelle R. Suskauer will be sworn in as the 70th president of The Florida Bar when the Bar holds its Annual Convention from June 13-16 in Orlando. She will be sworn in at the General Assembly on Friday, June 15. Vero Beach attorney John M. Stewart will be sworn in as president-elect.
Suskauer is the sixth woman to serve as Bar president and is the first former public defender to hold the office.
Suskauer is a criminal defense attorney with Dimond Kaplan & Rothstein, P.A., practicing in state and federal courts. Suskauer has been a member of The Florida Bar’s Board of Governors since 2010 and has chaired the Board Disciplinary Review Committee, the Board Communications Committee and the Annual Convention Committee.
Suskauer’s goals as president of The Florida Bar for the coming year reflect her experience in the legal profession. A longtime small-firm practitioner, Suskauer will focus on helping solo or small firms become more productive and profitable. More than three-fourths of Bar members practicing in Florida are part of firms with 10 or fewer attorneys.
“As someone who is a small-law firm practitioner myself, I understand the daily struggles of balancing client needs with managing the business of the firm,” Suskauer says. “Solo and small law firms are the backbone of the Bar, and we can give members more tools to help them with the daily pressures they face in their practices.”
Suskauer also will lead the Bar in seeking common-sense criminal justice reform that focuses on rehabilitation, rather than punishment. The Bar will hold a Criminal Justice Summit in October, with the goal of proposing legislation that can help bring reform.
Finally, under Suskauer the Bar will continue ongoing initiatives to prioritize attorney health and wellness, while also destigmatizing the issue so members feel comfortable seeking the help they need. Additionally, the Bar will promote inclusion and gender equality in the legal profession and justice system by implementing the recommendations put forward by the Bar’s Special Committee on Gender Bias/Diversity. She says the Bar will continue developing and investigating potential programs and member benefits.
An active member in her local and statewide legal community, Suskauer has served as president of the Palm Beach County Bar Association and the Florida Association for Women Lawyers-Palm Beach County Chapter, and she is currently president of the Board of Directors of the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County.
Suskauer earned a B.A. in communication from Boston University in 1988 and her J.D. from American University in 1991. She began her legal career at the Office of the 15th Circuit Public Defender in West Palm Beach, handling thousands of criminal cases. In 1994, she joined Schuler, Wilkerson, Halvorson & Williams, and in 1997 she joined her husband, Scott Suskauer, at Suskauer Law Firm, P.A.
With more than 25 years of criminal defense experience, Suskauer is a nationally recognized and trusted legal analyst. She has made television appearances on shows such as “The Today Show,” “Good Morning America,” “NBC Nightly News” and many more. Suskauer is the legal analyst for Palm Beach County’s NBC affiliate, WPTV NewsChannel 5; its Fox affiliate, WFLX 29; and 1290 WJNO and 850 WFTL.
Suskauer has been recognized with numerous awards including the Daily Business Review 2017 Top 10 Women in Law, the Serving Justice Award from the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County, and 2017 Woman of the Year from the South Palm Beach County Women Lawyers Association.
With nearly 106,000 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.