Sunday, August 21, 2016

The #WCI2016 is off and Running!

The 2016 version of the Workers' Compensation Institute got off to a running start today in Orlando. The opening session is tomorrow morning, complete with keynote speeches, special guests, Steve Spurrier, the inaugural Kids Chance of Florida Scholarship presentation, Third Eye Blind and more. It will be a vast assortment of speakers, subjects, and curricula. It will be an amazing opportunity to learn and to teach. 

But today, the Professional Mediation Institute kicked off their program. This has traditionally been a Wednesday program, but moved this year to a Sunday afternoon and Monday morning format. There was a great turnout for this program, with some of the best mediation speakers available. 

Perhaps the best part of the #WCI2016 is the annual E. Earle Zehmer Moot Court Competition. In this event, in its 29th year, law students from 15 schools participated. They brought their "A-game" to Orlando. This is the only workers' compensation moot court competition in the country that is judged entirely by sitting judges. We had 41 volunteer members of the National Association of Workers' Compensation Adjudicators (NAWCJ) volunteer to judge this incredible assortment of bright and focused law students. 

The problem this year was centered on issues surrounding Florida's expert medical advisor (EMA) law. And, the law students brought a wide variety of legal research, poise and practice to the fore. Congratulations to the teams, their coaches and supporters. Tomorrow, this conference starts in earnest. But today was a great start. 

Barry University School of Law
Baylor Law School (Texas)
Charleston School of Law (South Carolina)
Charlotte School of Law (North Carolina)
Florida A&M University College of Law
Florida Coastal School of Law
Florida State University College of Law
Mississippi College School of Law
Nova S.E. University Shepard Broad Law Center
Stetson University College of Law
St. Thomas University School of Law
Thomas M. Cooley Law School
University of Florida Fredric G. Levin College of Law
University of Miami School of Law
University of Pittsburgh School of Law (Pennyslvania)

And, the Sunday afternoon included a continuation of the National Conversation on workers' compensation. There were some fresh faces, and some fresh perspectives. There is a growing consensus that the challenges of American workers' compensation are within the expertise of those gathering and striving for solutions. Bob Wilson led a four hour conversation focusing on the three issues that the Summit has identified as the most critical:

1. Benefit adequacy
2. Regulatory complexity
3. Delays in treatment even if injury is compensable 

The conversation was encouraging and inspirational. This conversation is leading to more understanding of perspectives. It is leading to communication and sharing. There will be more from the National Conversation in days to come. but this second chapter was a great step forward in identifying common ground and framing issues. The National Conversation was fortunate to have this opportunity for a second meeting, further conversations, and further progress. 

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