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Business Observer Thursday, Sep. 11, 2003 19 years ago

21 Change in Leadership

Florida Bar President Miles McGrane declares his focus: children's legal needs. He hopes to raise $250,000 for the children's foundation.

Miles McGrane

Age: 55

Birth place: Troy, N.Y.

Birth order: Third of four.

Parents: Father, a lawyer who died when McGrane was seven. Mother was a homemaker.

Favorite books: "I think the most important book to anyone is the Bible. I'm not a student of it, but I read every morning from it. ..All the Harry Potter books. And the latest Tom Clancy book. I've always got some mindless novel stuck in my briefcase."

Family: Married to Patricia Lee, a nurse. Three children: Miles IV, Ashley and Blake.

On stress: "I don't get stressed. I can get tense sometimes. But I just don't get stressed out. Having been a trial lawyer for 28 years, even going into trial I don't get stressed."

For fun: "I used to play golf. I don't have time any more. I've got a rose garden (but) the poor things don't get as much attention as they used to."

Next: "I'm hoping I can get Gov. Bush to appoint me to the board of trustees for Florida Atlantic University. The president of FAU is Frank Brogan, former lieutenant governor. He introduced me when I was sworn in. That'd be fun, to go back and work for the institution that gave (me) all the opportunities."

By Hali White

Legal Affairs Editor

wo months after taking the helm of The Florida Bar as its 55th president, Miles McGrane III of Miami, visited Tampa for the annual meeting of the bar's committee and section leaders. McGrane discussed his new job, his goals for the coming year, and his management style.

McGrane, 55, a medical-malpractice attorney, describes himself as a big picture leader who believes in delegating.

"I like to paint the big picture," McGrane says. "I've got the best executive director of any bar, Jack Harkness. A lot of things happen automatically. If I come up with an idea, I can send it to a committee to get the work done."

McGrane says he manages his law firm, McGrane & Nosich PA, the same way. He relies heavily on his office manager of 24 years.

However, he says he will personally manage his main initiative for the year, For the Children, designed to address the legal needs of Florida's children.

"I won't delegate a lot of that," he says. First, McGrane asked the bar's committees and sections to review a bar report published three years ago on the legal needs of children. He wants to find ways to implement the report's suggestions. He was especially concerned with Florida's lack of an expedited appellate rule in child custody cases.

When McGrane asked the appellate rules committee to examine the issue, he was referred to the family law section. Realizing a need for cohesiveness, McGrane appointed a standing committee for the legal needs of children. That committee will coordinate the various committees' analysis of the three-year-old report. Edith Osmond, who was bar president when the original report was issued, will chair the standing committee.

There are fewer than 20 legal aid attorneys working full time for children's needs in Florida, McGrane reports. That's only one legal aid attorney per 31,000 poor children. McGrane has asked each Florida Bar member to give $45 to the bar's Foundation for Children. He hopes to raise $250,000. He also asks that attorneys volunteer their time to nonprofit legal aid groups.

Second on McGrane's goal list: a review of the bar's lawyer discipline system. Usually Florida Bar programs undergo evaluation every three years. Though no one knows why, there has not been a careful review of the discipline system since 1988.

"Since we spend about $10 million a year of our members' money on lawyer discipline, we thought it was overdue to do that analysis," McGrane says. A 24-member committee member met for the first time to discuss the issue Sept. 5 at the leaders' conference held at the Tampa Airport Marriott.

As president of the bar, McGrane is expected to chair the six meetings of the bar's board of governors, to work closely with the Supreme Court and to make speaking appearances throughout the state. He still practices medical-malpractice law from his Miami office, though he estimates his time is now divided 40% practice and 60% bar leadership. When in Miami, he starts his day at around 6:30 a.m. and makes it home by 6 p.m. for dinner with his wife, Patricia Lee, of 23 years. His schedule on travel days is more flexible.

McGrane was born in Troy, N.Y., and lived there until he was 10, when his family moved to Hollywood, Fla. His father, a lawyer, died when McGrane III was seven years old.

"I never went through that period of life when I was smarter than my father - the teenage years," McGrane says. "So I've always had this image of who he was and what he was, so that drew me to the law." He began his college career at Broward Junior College and transferred to Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, only to run out of money his senior year. When McGrane found out that the student body president received a full scholarship, he successfully ran for the office.

To finance law school, McGrane got a job as an assistant director of financial aid at FAU, and saved almost all his salary. He doesn't regret the hard work.

"Unlike these poor kids now, I got out of law school with no debt," he says. After graduating in 1975 from Samford University's Cumberland School of Law, McGrane joined the law firm of Adams George Wood Lee & Schulte, where he began a malpractice practice. (He won't comment on the recent malpractice debate that raged in the Legislature.) He stayed there three years before joining George & Thompson PA for two years. In 1980, he became a partner at Kubicki, Draper, Gallagher & McGrane P.A., where he stayed for 13 years before forming McGrane & Nosich PA.

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