Valencia to Offer Continuing Legal Education Courses for Attorneys, Judges, Paralegals

Friday, July 7, 2017

ORLANDO — Valencia College’s Peace and Justice Institute (PJI) has launched a series of continuing legal education courses aimed at helping lawyers, judges, and paralegals bring peaceful resolution to cases in a legal system built on conflict.

PJI’s Legal Education Action Project (LEAP) recently launched the first in a series of continuing legal education classes. The first course was held in May.

The Florida Bar has accredited the college’s 1-Hour and 3-Hour “Principles for How We Treat Each Other” classes with the Professionalism credit classification. The 3-Hour Principles class will be offered on July 21 and Valencia plans to launch the next class, “Authentic Advocacy,” in September. Valencia plans to offer one course every other month, with the third class in the series focusing on the topic of bias.

The courses are designed to teach legal professionals how to skillfully navigate conflict not only with difficult clients, but also with challenging opposing attorneys. Reflective and mindfulness practices and other wellness tools are integrated into these classes. That’s especially important, says LEAP coordinator and Florida Bar member Kristin “Kiki” Grossman. “Learning tools to support wellness is vital because, unfortunately, those in this profession suffer high rates of substance abuse and mental health issues. Judges, lawyers and paralegals see the need for these tools. They understand the mental and physical toll that litigation takes on you and your clients.”

In a field where so many young attorneys now go into solo practice — without the benefit of seasoned attorneys to serve as mentors – it’s especially important to teach legal professionals the tools to help them practice law with the professionalism, civility, courtesy, and dignity encouraged by The Florida Bar, Grossman says.

After Valencia offered the three-hour course in May, participants gave the course good reviews. “In a hurried world where we sometimes forget to look beyond people’s words and actions and discover the ‘why’ behind what people say and do, LEAP helped me become a better attorney and in essence a better person, by delving into those ‘whys’ to understand what is really happening when people say the things they say and do the things they do,” said Wendy Mara, an Ormond Beach attorney who participated in the LEAP program.

“There are problems with lack of civility in the practice of law. This is an inherently adversarial system,” says Grossman. “Sometimes lawyers, like anyone else in the midst of conflict, get triggered. Knee-jerk, unprofessional reactions often follow and lead to inflamed conflict which lead to protracted legal battles and huge legal fees. Through these courses, we hope to help attorneys learn better ways to conduct themselves while navigating conflict. We’ll never be perfect, but those who participate will learn ways to aspire to standards of The Florida Bar Creed of Professionalism: To practice law with decorum, dignity and courtesy.”

Grossman is the Coordinator of the Peace and Justice Institute (PJI) Legal Education Action Project.  Grossman is a member of the Florida Bar, the Collaborative Family Law Group of Central Florida, and holds her LL.M. from the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at the Pepperdine School of Law. She also serves on the PJI Advisory Council.

To register for an upcoming course, please visit

For more information on LEAP, please contact Kiki Grossman at or Rachel Allen at


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