March 30, 2019
March 2019: Julie Girard and Kevin Golembiewski
Julie Girard and Kevin Golembiewski
Co-Presidents, ACS Tampa Lawyer Chapter
There’s a debate going on, and it affects all of us, no matter who we are or what we do to pay the bills. We the People are debating the judiciary—its role and what features it should have. We are debating whether the judiciary should reflect our communities and shared values. We are debating whether a judge’s primary role should be deciphering the precise meaning of legal text or, alternatively, making law work and upholding justice. We are debating what qualifies someone to don the hallowed black robe. And so much more.
We joined ACS in law school (Julie at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and Kevin at Harvard Law School) because we wanted to participate in this debate, and after graduation, we founded the Tampa Lawyer Chapter because we believe our community has a lot to contribute to it.
We are interested in the role of the judiciary not only because of our careers, but also because of our personal experiences. We are both litigators, so we spend much of our time interacting with courts. Julie practices employment law at Phelps Dunbar, and Kevin is a civil rights lawyer with Berney & Sang. We are also millennials, so throughout our lives we have experienced transformative U.S. Supreme Court decisions. Raised in Jacksonville, Florida, Kevin still remembers the controversy over the 2000 presidential election and how his community reacted to Bush v. Gore. Both of us still remember celebrating Obergefell v. Hodges with friends and family. And we both remember the day the Court handed down Shelby County v. Holder, striking down part of the Voting Rights Act.
In 2015, we moved to Tampa (we’re not only colleagues but also married), and we immediately met lawyers who share our interest in the role of the judiciary. We met solo practitioners, corporate lawyers, criminal defense lawyers, prosecutors, and law clerks who are interested in discussing the judiciary and who, like us, believe that the law should be a force for improving the lives of all people. So in 2017, we founded the Tampa Lawyer Chapter.
As ACS members and chapter leaders, we are immersed in the debate about the role of the judiciary, and we are committed to providing a platform for the progressive voices in Tampa to share their views and ideas. Over the past few years, for example, we have organized talks on Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination, Florida’s Federal Judicial Nominating Commission, the Florida Supreme Court, and the role of State Attorneys General.
We are grateful to ACS not only for affording our community the chance to lead the debate about the judiciary, but also for amplifying our voices.